Skip to main content

We will keep fighting for all libraries - stand with us!

Full text of "The universal geography : earth and its inhabitants"

See other formats

>:*■;■  ^^- 





V. /7 




i  Li 








By  a.  H.  KEANE,  B.A. 


VOL.    XVII. 



J.   S.   VIRTUE   &   CO.,   LmiTEU,   294,   CITY   ROAD  6 


rRINTFD    MV   J.    S.    VJRTt'K   ANH   CO.,    I.IMITFI). 


I.  GEyEBAT,  Slkvky 

Geological  Changes,  p.  2.  Prehistoric  Migrations,  p.  3. 
Political  Changes,  p.  6.  Aborigines  and  Xegroes,  p.  8. 
p.  9.     The  Isthmian  Begion,  p.  12. 

Gradual  Settlement,  p.  4. 
Spaniards  and  Mestizoes, 



II.  Mexico 


Central  Contidcratioiit,  p.  14.     Progress  of  Discovery,  p.  15. 

2.  Mexim  Proper,  Xorsh  of  the  Isthmus  of  Tehuantepec,  p.  20.  Mountains  and  Volcanoes, 
p.  20.  Rivers  and  Lakes,  p.  36.  Climate,  p.  4S.  Flora,  p.  53.  Fanna,  p.  b6. 
Inhabitants,  p.  59.  Ijower  California,  p.  93.  Sonora  — Sinaloa,  p.  95.  Chihuahua 
— Durango,  p.  100.  North-Eastern  States  :  Coahuila — Nuevo  Leon — Tamaulipas, 
p.  102.  Inland  States:  Zacatecas  —  Aguascalientes — San  Luis  Potosi,  p.  106. 
Guanajuato— Jalisco  and  Tepic — Colima — Michoacan,  p.  109.  Queretaro — Hidalgo 
— Mexico— Federal  District,  p.  il5.  Vera  Cruz,  p.  129.  Morelos — Guerrero— 
Oaxaca,  p.  135. 

3.  Eatt  Mexico,  p.  142.  Chiapas — Tabasco— Campeachy — Yucatan,  p.  142.  Physical 
Features,  p.  143.  Rivers,  p.  146.  Climate — Flora — Fauna,  p.  153.  Inhabitants, 
p.  154.     Topography,  p.  161. 

4.  EeoncFinie  and  Soeial  Condition  of  Mexico,  p.  170. 

5.  Government  and  Administration,  187. 

III.  BETnsH  Ho>"di:bas  (Belize) 191- 

The  Cockscomb  Mountains,  p.  193.     Rivers,  p.  194.     The  Seaboard,  p.  195.    Climate 
— Flora — Fauna,  p.  197.     Topography,  p.  197.     Adniinistrarion,  p.  200. 


IV.  Cen-tbai,  .Avfrtca  :   GuAiEstALi,  Ho>"BUBAS,  Saivadob.  XicAEAGri,  CosTi  Rica  . 

1.  General  Surrey,  p.  201. 

2.  Guatemala,  p.  206.  Physical  Features,  p.  207.  Rivers  and  Lakes,  p.  213.  Climate 
— Flora — Fauna,  p.  217.  Inhabitants,  p.  218.  Topography,  p.  225.  Material 
Condition  of  Guatemala,  p.  238. 

3.  San  Sahador,  p.  244.  Physical  Features,  p.  244.  Rivers,  p.  249.  Climate— Flora 
— Fanna,  p.  250.  Inhabitants,  p  250.  Topography,  p.  251.  Economic  Condition 
of  Salvador,  p.  254. 

4.  Honduras,  p.  255.  Physical  Features,  p.  256.  Rivers— Islands — Inlets,  p.  258. 
Climate — Flora— Fauna,  p.  260.  Inhabitants,  p.  261.  Topography,  p.  263, 
Economic  Condition  of  Honduras,  p.  266. 

2ul— 311 



5.  NicarayiM,  p.  270.  Physical  Features,  p.  271.  Elvers  and  L.akes,  p.  275.  Climate 
—Flora— Fauna,  p.  280.  IiiLabitants,  p.  281.  Topography,  p.  284.  Economic 
Condition  of  Nicaragua,  p.  289.  The  Nicaragua  Canal,  p.  290.  Administration, 
p.  292. 

6.  Costa  Rica,  p.  293.  Physical  Features,  p.  296.  Rivers,  p.  300.  Climate— Flora- 
Fauna,  p.  301.  Inhabitants,  p.  303.  Topography,  p.  30G.  Economic  Condition  of 
Costa  Rica,  p.  308. 

V.  Panama ■     312—337 

Physical  Features,  p.  312.  Rivers— Bays — Islands,  p.  314.  Climate,  p.  319.  Flora 
—Fauna,  p.  320.  Inhabitants,  p.  321.  Topography,  p.  323.  The  Panama  Canal, 
p.  329.     Administration,  p.  337. 

VI.  The  Abierican  Meditekeanean  :   Gulp  of  Mexico  and  Caeibbeant  Sea  .         .         .     338 — 353 
Progress  of  Exploration— Soundings,  p.  338.     Catchment  Basins,  p.  341.     Marine 
Currents,  p.  343.     Atmospheric  Currents,  p.  345.     Temperature- Marine  Flora  and 
Fauna,  p.  34S.     Land  Flora  and  Fauna,  p.  349.     Inhabitants,  p.  350. 

VII.  Ctjba 354—381 

Physical  Features,  p.  355.  Rivers,  p.  359.  Reefs  and  Cays,  p.  300.  Climate— 
Flora— Faima,  p.  364.  Inhabitants,  p.  366.  Topography,  p.  370.  Economic  Con- 
dition of  Cuba,  p.  379. 

VIII.  Jamaica 382—395 

Physical  Features,  p.  383.  Rivers— CUmate—Flora—Fauna,  p.  384.  Inhabitants, 
p.  385.     Topography,  p.  392.     Administration,  p.  394. 

IX.  San  Dominoo  :   Haiti  and  the  Dominican  Republic 396—422 

1.  General  Survey,  p.  396.  Physical  Features,  p.  397.  Rivers— Lakes — Reefs,  p.  400. 
Climate — Flora— Fauna,  p.  403.     Inhabitants,  p.  404. 

2.  RepulUc  of  Haiti,  p.  410. 

3.  San  Domiiiffo,  p.  418. 

X.  Pueeto  Rico 423—429 

Physical  Features,  p.  423.  Inhabitants,  p.  424.  Topography,  p.  425.  Economic 
Condition,  p.  428. 

XI.  ViEoiN  Islands  and  Santa  Cruz 430 — 436 

St.  Thomas,  p.  430.  St.  John,  p.  433.  Santa  Cruz,  p.  433.  Tortola— Virgin 
Gorda — Anegada,  p.  436. 

XII.  The  Bahamas 437—448 

XIII.  The  Beemtoas 449—454 

XIV.  The  Lessee  Antilles 455 — 4S6 

Sombrero— The  Dogs— Anguila — St.  Martin,  p.  463.  St.  Bartholomew,  p.  464. 
Barbuda,  p.  465.  Antigua,  p.  465.  Saba  and  St.  Eustatius,  p.  467.  St.  Christopher 
and  Nevis,  p.  468.  Moutserrat,  p.  470.  Guadeloupe,  p.  471.  Dominica,  p.  475. 
Martinique,  p.  476.  St.  Lucia,  p.  479.  St.  Vincent,  p  480.  Grenada  and  the 
Grenadines,  p.  483.     Barbados,  p.  485. 

Appendix     ...............  487 



94.  Native  Populations  of  Guatemala     .         .  224 

95.  The  Altos  Kegrion 226 

96.  Solola  and  Lake  Atitlan  ....  229 

97.  SnccessiTe  Displacements  of  Guatemala  231 
9S.  Thickly-Inhabited  Region  of  Guatemala  .  233 
99.  Lake  Peten 236 

100.  Density  of  the  Population  in  Guatemala  .  237 

101.  Chief  Products  of  Guatemala  .         .         .239 

102.  GcATESLsxis  AjxiLDES,  Altos  Region   .  241 

103.  Political  Divisions  of  Guatemala      .         .  243 

104.  ArSOL  AT  AHTTiCHAPAir  ....  245 
10.5.  Volcanoes  of  West  Salvador     .         .         .  246 

106.  Lake  Ilopango 247 

107.  Volcanoes  of  East  Salvador       .                  .  248 

105.  San  Salvador  and  its  Environs  .251 
109.  La  Libkktad,  Poet  of  San  Salvadoe  .  253 
XIO.  Density  of  the  Population  of  Salvador      .  254 

111.  Interoceanic  Waterparting,  Honduras     .  256 

112.  Bay  Islands 259 

113.  Puerto  Cortes  and  Lake  Alvarado              .  264 

1 14.  Fouseca  Bay 267 

115.  Comparative  Debts  of  Various  States        .  268 

116.  Debt  per  Head  of  Population  in  Various 

Countries 269 

117.  Territory  claimed  at  Various  Times  by 

Great  Britain       .                  ...  270 
US.  MosTBACHO  Volcano  .isd  Shores  of  T.tin; 


119.  Isthmus  of  Rivas 275 

120.  The  Kiearagua  Waterparting  .         .         .  276 

121.  ilarrabios  Range  and  Lake  Managua      .  278 

122.  Population  of  Honduras  and  Nicaragua  .  282 

123.  Density  of  the  Popidation  of  Honduras 

and  Nicaragua 2S5 

124.  San  Juan  del  Norte  before  the  Construc- 

tion of  the  Pier 288 

12-5.  Projected  Interoceanic  Canals  across  Nica- 
ragua    290 

126.  Lower  San  Juan  Canal     .         .         .         .291 

127.  Political  Divisions  of  Nicaragua       .         .  292 

128.  Gulf  of  Columbus 294 

129.  On-e  of  the  Thebe  Ceatees  or  Poas     .  295 

130.  SusDcrr  of  Mount  Ieazu         .         .         .  297 

131.  Plateau  and  Volcanoes  of  Costa  Rica  .  298 
132    Gulf  of  Nicova 299 

133.  Gulf  of  DulJe 301 

134.  GrATTJSo  Indian 304 

135.  YoirxQ  Tir>M>vr»c;  Indians   .         .         .  305 

136.  Puerto  Limon .         .....  308 

137.  Mill  foe  Huskino  Coffee     .                 .  309 

138.  Highways   of    Communication  in  Costa 

Rica 310 

139.  Administrative  Divisions  of  Costa  Rica    .  311 

140.  Course  of  the  River  Chagrcs    .         .         .314 

141.  Gulf  of  San  Miguel.         .         .         .         .  315 

142.  GuU  of  San  Bias 317 

143.  Caledonia  Bay 318 

144.  Gulf  of  Panama 319 

145.  Isthmus  of  Chiriqui           ....  322 

146.  Panama .  324 

147.  Paxama — View      taken-     feom     Mount 

AxcoN 325 

148.  Colon 326 

149.  The    "Mystery   of    the   Strait  '    at   the 

Beginning  of  the  Sixteenth  Century     .     328 

150.  Docks  and  Course  of  the  Panama  Canal  .     329 

151.  Sill  of  the  Lock  Canal      .         .         .         .330 

152.  Projected  Artificial  Lakes  on  the  Panama 

Divide 332 

153.  Projected  Cuttings  across  the  Isthmus  of 

Panama  and  Darien     ....     333 

154.  Projected  Canal  between  L'raba  and  San 

Miguel  Bays 334 

155.  Cupica  Bay 335 

156.  The  Raspadura  Divide     .         .         .         .336 

157.  Gulf  of  Mexico 339 

158.  Caribbean  Sea 340 

159.  The  Puerto  Rico  Abyss    .         .         .         .341 

160.  Slopes  draining  to  the   American  Medi- 

terranean    ......     342 

161.  Main  Currents  of    the   American  Medi- 

terranean    ......     344 

162.  Deep-Sea   Temperatures  in  the  Atlantic 

and  West  India  Waters        .         .        .346 

163.  Deposits  on  the  Bed  of  the  Atlantic  and 

West  India  Waters      .         .         .         .347 

164.  Aneg  ad  I  .-ind  the  Horseshoe  Reef     .         .     348 

165.  Snake  -  Catchee    and    Chaecoal    Giel, 

Maeti.mque 351 

16G.  Preponderance   of   the  White  and  Black 

Races  in  the  West  Indies  .        .     352 

167.  La  Coube  (Cuba)  and  the  Mer  de  LentiUe  355 
16S.  Western  Division  of  Cuba  .         .     356 

169.  Eastern  Division  of  Cuba  .  .     357 

170.  Cape  S;in  Antonio  and  Corrientes  Bay     .     361 

171.  Jardinillos 362 

172.  Isle  of  Pines 363 

173.  Plantation  of  Pineapples     .         .         .     365 

174.  Political   Divisions  of    Cuba   before   the 

Spauisb  Conquest         ....     368 

175.  ChobeebaTower  ("Bvccaneers' Foef"), 

at  the  Mouth  OP  the  Almendakes         371 

176.  C^ban  Seaports  West  of  Havana     .  373 

177.  Matanzas 374 

178.  Trinidad  and  its  Harbours  375 

179.  Central  Isthmus  of  Cuba  .         .376 

180.  Santiago  de  Cuba 37b 

181.  Port  of  Guantanamo         ....     379 

182.  Railways  of  Cuba 381 

183.  Hilly  Region  in  West  Jamaica  .     383 

184.  View  taken  at  the  Newcastle  Saxa- 

TOEmi,  Jaslaica 389 

185.  District  of  Morant,  Jamaica  .         .     391 

186.  Kingston  and  Port  Royal  .         .         .     392 

187.  Chief  Towns  of  Jamaica  .         .  .394 

188.  Chain  of  the  Cayman  Islands  .  .     395 

189.  Monte- Crisri  Range  and  Vega  Plain         .     39S 

190.  View  taeex  feusi  the  Mole  St.   Nico- 

las Pextn-stla,  Haiti  ....     399 

191.  Ozama  and  Bmjuelas  Basins    .  .401 

192.  Isthmus  of  the  Lakes,  San  Domingo        .     402 

193.  Chief  Slave-Trade  Routes         .         .         .406 

194.  Scene  of  the  War  of  Independence  .         .     408 

195.  Disputed   Territory  between   Haiti   and 

San  Domingo 409 

196.  St.  Nicolas  PeniiLSula        •         .         .         .411 



197.  Gulf  of  Port-au-Prince 

198.  South-West  Peninsula  of  Haiti 

199.  Lcs  Cayes  Bay 
20J.  Geoup  of  Haiitass 

201.  .iVzua  and  Ocoa  Bay 

202.  Santo  Domingo 

203.  Samana  Bay    . 

204.  Puerto  Rico      . 

205.  San  Juan  Buutista,  Puerto  Rico 

206.  South-west  Comer  of  Puerto  Ric-. 

207.  St.  Thomas  I»Iand  . 

208.  St.  Thomas  Harbour 

209.  Virgin  Island  .... 

210.  Santa  Cruz       .... 

211.  View  tax  ex  in  Santa  Cbuz  Island 

212.  Bemini  Island  and  Banks 

213.  Tongue  of  the  Oteau 



































Nassau    .......  445 

TVatling  Lslund 446 

The  Bermudas  .         .  .         .451 

View  taken   from    Gibb's  Hill,  Bf.E- 

MLDAS             ......  453 

St.  Kitts 456 

A  JIaktixique  Ckeole  Woman      .  461 

St.  Martin        ......  464 

St.  John's  Harbour,  Antigua  .         .         .  466 

St.  Eustatiu.s    ......  467 

St.  Kitts— View  taken  fkom  Netis        .  469 

Montserrat 471 

Martinique       ......  477 

Lines  of  Navigation  and  Submarine  Cables 

in  the  West  Indies  ....  478 
Geneeal  View  of  Casteies,  St.   Ll-cia 

Island          .                  ....  430 



Mexico  and  Central  America   . 

Mexico  and  its  Valley 

West  Indies     .... 



Havana   .... 
The  Guadaloupe  Aroliipelago 



Indians  of  Tecpan,  Guatemala         .  Frontispiece 

Isthmus    of    Panama — View    taken  from  the 

Cidebra  ....  To  face  page  12 
Popocatepetl — View  taken  from  the  Thimecas 

Rancho      ...         ....       27 

Indian  Village — View  taken  at  the  Huexooulco . 

Pueblo,  Province  of  Mexico  .  .  .75 
Panoramic  View  of  Guanajuato       .         .         .110 

Street  View  in  Morelia 115 

City  of  Tida — General  View    .         .         .         .117 

General  View  of  Mexico 120 

The  Chapidtepec  Cypresses  ....  123 
Puebla — View  taken  from  tlie  South  .  .126 
Vera  Cruz  and  Fort  of  St.  John  d'Ulua  .  .133 
Cenote  of  Valladolid,  Yucat-.m  .         .         .     ISl 

Ruins  of  U.xmal — The  Governor's  Palace  .     167 

The    Metlac   Viaduct    between    Cordoba    and 

Orizaba,  on  the  Mexico-Vera  Cruz  ll:iilway  184 
Belize — View  taken  from  the  Harbour  .  .108 
View  taken  on  Lake  Atitlan  .  .  .  .214 
Escuintla — General  View  ....     233 

Indian  Workwomen  of  the  Hot  Lands  on  the 

Pacific  Slope 238 

Ilopango  Volcano     .         .         .         To  face  page  246 

Honduras  Scenery    ......  2G0 

Tegucigalpa — View  taken  from  La  Concepcion  266 

Ceiba 280 

Leon — View  taken  in  the  Main  Thorouglifare  .  284 

Port  Limou  and  Uvas  Island    ....  307 

Panama  Scenery — the  Rio  Chagres  at  Matachiu  314 

Indian  Settlements,  Islands  of  San  Bias  Bay  .  316 

The  Panama  Canal — View  taken  at  San  Pablo  330 

General  View  of  Havana  taken  from  Casablanca  370 
General  View  of  Matanzas        .         .         .         .373 

General  View  of  Santiago,  Cuba  .  .  .  377 
Turtle  Island — View  taken  at  the  Moutli  of  the 

Tliree  Rivers      .         .         .         .         .         .405 

General  View  of  Port-au-Prince  .  .  .412 
General  View  of  San  Juan  Bautista,    Puerto 

Rico 425 

General  View  of  Hopetown,  Abaoo  Island  .  444 
West    Indian    Scenery — View    taken    in    the 

Saintes  Islands            .....  473 

View  of  Basse-Terre,  Guadelupe      .         .  474 

General  View  of  Fortde-France,  Martinique   .  477 

Kingston,  St.  Vincent  Island   ....  48i 











Central  American   Isthmuses  and  Inland 


citlaltepetel — view  taijen   feom    near 

Oeizaba        ..... 
Political  States  of  Central  America 
Mexico    before    the    Annexation    to 

United  States       .... 
Predominant  Races  in  Central  America 
Canals  and  Routes  across  the  Isthmuses 
First  Mexican  Itineraries,   1517  to  1550 
Chief  Positions  scientifically  determined  in 

Regions   studied   by   the   Officers   of    the 

French  Expedition 
Relief  of  Mexico 
Jonillo,  according  to  Himiboldt 
Ori^iaba  Peak     .... 
Volcanoes  of  Mexico 
IgTieous  Regions  and  Volcanoes  of  Mexico 
Convergence  of  the  two  Sierra  Madres 
Various  Altitudes  of  the  Mexican  Momi' 

tains  and  Towns  .... 
Tamaulipas  Coast  Lagoons 
Coalzacoalcos  Bar  .... 
The  Regla  Falls  .... 
Lake  Chapala  ..... 
Colorado  Estuary  .... 
Closed  Basins  of  Me.xico 
Area  of   the   Mexican   Lakes   at   Various 

Vertical    Disposition     of     the      Mexican 


Isothermals  of  Mexico  modified  by  Altitude 
Vegetable  Zones  in  Mexico 
Extent  of  the  Aztec  Conquests  . 
Aetlpiolal  Pteamtd  op  Cholula 
Saceed  Stone  op  Tizoc,  in  the  Museum 

OF  Mexico  .  .  :  .  . 
First  Conquests  of  Cortes  . 
Port  of  Siguantaneo  .... 
Scene  of  the  War  of  Independence  . 
Chief  Native  Populations  in  Mexico  . 
Watee-Caeeiee  and  Toetiilas  Woman 
Chief  Native-Races  in  Mexico 
Prevailing  Diseases  in  Mexico 
La  Paz 
Guaymas  . 
Mazatlan  . 

Cathedeal  of  Chihuahua 
Tampieo     . 
Zacatecas  . 

San  Luis  Potosi-  Goveenment 
San  Bias    . 
Ancient  Mexico 




















































Cathedeal  of  Mexico 

Mexico  and  its  Eu™onments     . 

Tlalpam  and  Lake  Xochimilco   . 

Indian  Maeket-Gaedenee's  Canoe  . 

Puebla  in  1862 

Orizaba      ...... 

Successive  Displacements  of  Vera  Cruz 

From  Vera  Cruz  to  Anton  Lizardo    . 

Harbour  Works  in  Progress  at  Vera  Cruz 

Acapulco    ...... 

Chief  Ruins  of  Central  Mexico  . 

Isthmus  of  Tehuantepec     . 

Salina  Cruz,  the  new  Port  of  Tehuantepec, 

Minatitlan,  Northern  Port  of  Tehuantep. 

Bank  of  Yucatan        .... 

Alacran  Reef     ..... 

The  Usumacinta — View  taken  at  the 
Paso  Talchilan,  on  the  Guatemalan 
Frontiee     ..... 

Mouths  of  the  Grijalva  and  Usumacinta 

Terminos  Lagoon       .... 

The  Rio  of  Yucatan  .... 

Maya  Youths  ..... 

Chief  Ruins  of  Yucatan 

Ruins  in  the  Lacandon  and  Tzendal  Coun 
tries     ...... 

Merida  and  North-West  Yucatan 

Density  of  the  Population  in  Mexico . 


Maouet  Plantations,  San  Feauoisquito 
DisTEicT,  NEAE  Mexico 

Chief  Agricultural  Produce  in  Mexico 

The  Worid's  Yield  of  Silver       . 

The  World's  Y'ield  of  the  Precious  Metals 

Y'ield  of  Gold  and  Silver  in  Various  Coun- 
tries since  1492     . 

Chief  Mineral  Regions  of  Mexico 

The  Boca  del  Moute  Ascent 

Mexican  Railway  Systems  in  1890     . 

Political  Dirisions  of  Mexico 

British  Hondxiras       .... 

Parallelism  of  the  Old  and  Recent  Water^ 
courses         ..... 

Belize  and  the  Cockscomb  Mountains 

Domains  of  British  Honduius    . 

Old  Straits  in  Central  America  . 

Political  Divisions  of  Central  America 

Trend  of  the  Guatemalan  R  mges 

Chain  of  the  Fuego  Volcano 

Antigua  :  Ruins  op  Cheistchukch,  Agua 
Volcano  in  the  Backgk  und 

Pacaya  Volcano  .... 

Golfo  Dulce  and  the  Lower  Motagua 

Landscape  in  South  Guatem.ila — Bamboo 
















HE  insular  and  peninsular  regions  which  are  watered  by  the  Gulf 
of  Mexico  and  Caribbean  Sea  form  with  the  Mexican  triangle  a 
perfectly  distinct  section  of  the  New  "World.  Tender  the  latitude 
of  the  tropic  of  Cancer,  which  traverses  the  Mexican  plateau  and 
touches  the  extremity  of  the  peninsxila  of  Lower  California,  the 
contiaent  has  still  a  width  of  550  miles,  or  about  a  tenth  part  of  the  distance 
between  the  two  oceans  towards  the  middle  of  Xorth  America. 

But  south  of  that  line  the  mainland  tapers  and  expands  successively,  while 
developing  coastlines  parallel  with  the  escarpments  of  the  plateau.  Between 
Mexico  proper  and  Chiapas  occm's  a  first  contraction  at  the  isthmus  of  Tehuan- 
tepec ;  this  is  followed  towards  the  south-east  by  other  shrinkings  and  expansions, 
terminating  in  the  slender  neck  of  land  between  the  Gulfs  of  Panama  and  Darien, 
which  merges  in  the  South  American  continent. 

The  eastern  chain  of  the  American  Archipelago,  comprising  the  Bahamas  and 
Lesser  Antilles,  forms  a  cordon  over  1,800  miles  long,  which  sweeps  round  from 
the  north-west  to  the  south-east  in  a  serpentine  curve  roughly  parallel  with  that 
of  Mexico  and  Central  America.  This  vast  outer  rampart,  of  coralline  formation 
in  the  Bahamas,  of  volcanic  origin  in  the  Antilles,  encloses  the  so-called  "  Medi- 
terranean" of  the  I^Tew  "World,  which,  like  the  Mediterranean  of  the  eastern 
hemisphere,  is  divided  into  secondary  basins,  but  which  in  other  respects  presents 
little  resemblance  to  that  great  inland  sea. 

VOL.   XVII.  B 


The  northernmost  of  these  basins,  that  is,  the  Gulf  of  JSIexico,  which  develops 
an  immense  oval  contour  line  between  the  peninsulas  of  Florida  and  Yucatan,  is 
limited  southwards  by  the  long  island  of  Cuba,  and  communicates  with  the  neigh- 
bouring waters  only  through  two  passages  with  an  average  breadth  of  120  miles. 
The  southern  basin,  that  is,  the  Caribbean  Sea,  is  of  less  regular  form,  presenting 
between  the  Lesser  Antilles  and  the  Mosquito  Coast  a  broad  open  expanse,  which 
is  again  subdivided  towards  the  north-west  by  two  almost  completely  submerged 
ridges,  indicated  here  and  there  by  reefs  and  sandbanks.  On  one  of  these  ridges 
stands  the  Grand  Cayman  Chain,  while  the  other  connects  the  Tiburon  peninsula 
in  Haiti  through  Jamaica  with  Cape  Gracias  a  Dios.  Thus  the  West  Indies  are 
attached  to  Central  America  by  three  transverse  hills  which  might  be  called  those 
of  Cuba,  of  Cayman  and  Jamaica ;  all  three  begin  at  the  chain  of  islands  sweeping 
round  from  Grenada  and  the  Grenadines  to  Puerto  Rico,  almost  presenting  the 
appearance  of  being  three  branches  thrown  off  from  a  single  stem. 

All  these  lines  of  islands  and  peninsulas,  which  are  interconnected  in  various 
directions  between  the  northern  and  southern  continents,  give  evidence  of  cosmic 
forces  acting  over  vast  expanses  of  the  terrestrial  crust.  Nevertheless  their 
somewhat  symmetrical  arrangement  in  intersecting  curves  is  no  proof  that  the 
upheaved  lands  were  at  any  time  continuous,  or  that  the  now  partly  submerged 
ridges  themselves  are  the  remains  of  isthmuses  formerly  stretching  from  continent 
to  continent.  On  the  contrary  numerous  indications  drawn  from  the  distribution 
of  the  animal  and  vegetable  species  seem  to  justify  naturalists  in  concluding  that 
certain  contiguous  islands  have  never  formed  continuous  land  during  the  geological 
record.  Cases  in  point  are  the  Bahamas  and  the  Antilles,  which  by  their  natural 
history  are  more  intimately  connected  with  the  distant  Central  America  than  with 
Georgia  and  the  Carolinas.  In  the  same  way  Florida  belongs  rather  to  the  "West 
Indies  than  to  the  mainland  of  which  it  now  forms  part,  while  the  Bermudas,  lost 
amid  the  Atlantic  waters,  are  connected  with  the  Antilles  by  the  Gulf  Stream. 

The  American  Mediterranean  lands,  although  lying  almost  entirely  within  the 
tropics,  are  perfectly  accessible  to  man  for  all  purposes  of  permanent  settlement. 
In  this  respect  they  present  an  absolute  contrast  with  the  vast  regions  of  Africa 
situated  imder  the  same  latitude.  In  the  Old  "World  the  desert,  which  begins 
with  the  Sahara,  and  which  is  continued  across  Egypt,  Arabia,  Persia,  Turkestan, 
and  Mongolia,  comprises  millions  of  square  miles,  whereas  in  Central  America 
arid  spaces  are  of  limited  extent,  and  in  fact  occupy  that  part  of  Mexico  which 
lies  north  of  the  tropic  of  Cancer.  Thanks  to  the  humidity  of  the  atmosphere 
and  the  moderating  action  of  the  marine  waters,  tropical  America  is  almost  every- 
where clothed  with  a  rich  vegetation.  In  some  places  are  developed  almost 
impenetrable  forests  forming  a  continuous  mass  of  dense  verdure,  and  wherever 
clearings  are  effected,  economic  crops  may  be  raised  in  superabundance. 

The  white  race  has  even  succeeded  in  perpetuating  itself  in  the  Antilles, 
notably  in  Cuba  and  Puerto  Rico,  adapting  itself  to  the  climate  sufficiently  to 
cultivate  the  land  and  engage  in  industrial  pursuits. 

In  Mexico  and  in  Central  America  the  mean  elevation  of  the  plateaux,  offering 


a  climate  analogous  to  that  of  temperate  Europe,  has  enabled  Spanish  and  other 
immigrants  to  occupy  the  land.  Flourishing  European  colonies  have  been 
founded  on  these  uplands,  ■where  they  have  acquired  sufficient  influence  to  impart 
their  usages,  language  and  culture  to  the  great  mass  of  the  aboriginal  populations. 
Within  100  miles  of  the  coast  Citlaltepetel,  the  "Star  Mountain,"  which  passing 
seafarers  beheld  glittering  at  sunset  and  sunrise  like  a  flaming  beacon  above  the 
arid  and  swampy  plains  of  the  seaboard,  seemed  to  invite  them  to  scale  the  inter- 
vening heights  and  take  possession  of  the  breezy  inland  tablelands.  They  under- 
stood the  language  of  nature  which  attracted  them  to  these  uplands,  where  were 
afterwards  founded  Orizaba,  Cordoba,  and  other  flourishing  cities  of  "  Xew  Spain." 

Kg.  1.— Central  Ameeicas  Isthmuses  axd  Inlasb  Seas.    • 

Scale  1  :  t0,0O>,0O0. 

0  to  500 


BOO  to  2,000 

2,000  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

—  620Maes. 

"Wliile  physically  distinct  from  the  continental  masses  of  north  and  south, 
Central  America  itself  is  divided  into  secondary  regions  presenting  such  differ- 
ences that  the  inhabitants,  grouped  in  separate  tribes  and  nations,  remained 
formerly  almost  completely  isolated.  Communications  were  rare  and  difficult,  and 
no  ethnical  cohesion  had  been  developed  amongst  these  isolated  elements.  Before 
the  conquest  few  migrations  or  interminglings  took  place,  except  in  the  Mexican 
regions,  which  lay  broadly  open  in  the  north  towards  the  plains  of  Texas,  the  pla- 
teaux and  intermediate  valleys  of  the  Rocky  Mountains  and  the  CaKfornian  slope. 

In  the  Mexican  legends  or  annals  are  commemorated  the  peaceful  or  conquering 
movements  of  the  populations  following  in  successive  waves  of  migration  from 



nortt  to  south,  from  the  banks  of  the  Colorado  and  Rio  Bravo  to  the  vallej's  of 
the  Sierra  Madre,  the  Anahuac  tablelands  and  southern  isthmuses.  But  the  same 
records  speak  of  the  formidable  obstacles  encountered  by  those  peoples,  obstacles 
by  which  they  were  often  arrested  for  decades  and  even  centuries,  and  at  times 
compelled  to  retrace  their  steps  to  their  original  homes.  To  the  difEculties  created 
by  the  resisting  tribes  were  added  those  of  the  rough  routes  over  the  crests  of 
transverse  ranges,  and  the  changes  of  climate  on  their  passage  through  the  forests, 
or  on  the  descent  towards  the  hot  regions  of  the  seaboard  and  isthmuses.  Some 
of  those  northern  invaders  were  arrested  in  the  various  depressions  of  the  Mexican 
plateaux;  others  continued  their  march  as  far  as  Tehuantepec  and  Guatemala ;  while 
others  penetrated  southwards  to  the  plains  of  Salvador  and  the  Nicaragua  volcanoes. 

There  can  be  no  doubt  that  at  various  epochs  other  hordes  from  the  north 
pushed  even  still  farther  south.  But  no  documents  dating  from  the  American 
mediteval  period  make  any  mention  of  such  migrations  on  the  mainland.  In  fact 
in  the  narrow  neck  of  land  some  600  miles  long,  which  bends  round  to  the  north- 
west corner  of  the  state  of  Columbia,  the  natural  obstacles  become  almost  insur- 
mountable. Here  nothing  could  be  attempted  except  slow  maritime  expeditions 
continued  from  age  to  age ;  but  of  such  migrations  all  memory  has  perished. 
The  movements  of  the  native  populatioas  must  have  been  prevented  or  indefinitely 
arrested  by  the  rugged  highlands  stretching  from  sea  to  sea,  by  the  impenetrable 
tangle  of  tropical  forests,  the  sudden  freshets  caused  by  tremendous  downpours, 
or  the  flooded  tracts  skirting  the  banks  of  the  Atrato. 

The  numerous  islands  of  all  sizes  stretching  in  chains  between  the  basins  of 
the  American  Mediterranean,  or  along  the  borders  of  the  Atlantic,  were  destined 
by  their  very  isolation  to  become  the  homes  of  communities  either  differing  in 
origin  or  else  slowly  differentiated  by  long  seclusion.  During  the  course  of 
centuries  their  common  descent  was  necessarily  forgotten  even  by  kindred  sea- 
faring peoples,  whose  knowledge  of  navigation  was  rudimentary,  although  some 
of  their  craft  hoisted  sails  and  were  large  enough  to  carry  as  many  as  fifty  Indians. 
The  great  diversity  of  languages  formerly  spoken  in  the  Antilles  and  still  current 
in  Mexico  and  the  isthmuses  is  sufficient  evidence  of  long  isolation  and  dispersion 
in  the  fragmentary  woi-ld  lying  between  the  northern  and  southern  continents. 

For  this  region  a  certain  unity,  at  least  in  a  political  sense,  seemed  to  be 
prepared  by  the  discovery  of  the  archipelagoes  and  adjacent  mainland  at  the  end 
of  the  fifteenth  and  beginning  of  the  sixteenth  century.  When  they  landed  on 
this  new  territory  the  Spaniards  acquired  definite  possession  of  the  islands  and 
isthmuses,  if  not,  as  they  supposed,  for  the  dynasty  of  Charles  V.,  at  all  events 
as  an  inheritance  of  the  Old  World.  The  Antilles  and  Mexico  never  faded  from 
the  memory  of  Europeans,  as  had  been  the  fate  of  the  earlier  Norse  discoveries 
in  Greenland,  Helluland  and  Vineland. 

In  virtue  of  Pope  Alexander  VI.'s  Bull  awarding  to  the  Castilians  and  Portu- 
guese all  present  and  prospective  discoveries,  all  those  white  settlers  had  to  become 
Spanish  subjects.  The  vast  continental  amphitheatre  sweeping  round  the  double 
basin  of  the  inland  sea,  as  well  as  its  numerous  chains  of  islands,  was  consequently 


at  first  comprised  ^vitliin  the  Spanish  domain.  But  the  political  unity  of  these  lands 
was  purely  official,  and  often  little  more  than  nominal ;  in  many  places  the  Conquis- 
tadores  never  even  set  foot,  and  down  to  the  present  time  certain  territories  supposed 
to  be  within  their  jurisdiction  have  scarcely  even  been  visited  by  the  explorer. 

Xor  were  the  Spaniards  strong  enough  to  retain  political  possession  of  all  the 
regions  discovered  by  their  forefathers.     The   treasures  which  were  brought  to 

Fig.    2. — ClTLALTEPETEL. — TiEW  TAKEN  FEOII  >.t:aE  OsIZABA. 

Europe  by  the  first  conquerors  and  which  were  multiplied  a  hundredfold  in  the 
popular  imagination,  could  not  fail  to  excite  the  cupidity  of  adventurers  from  other 
nations.  Thus  it  happened  that,  either  with  the  consent  of  their  respective  sove- 
reigns, who  furnished  them  with  letters  of  marque,  or  else  as  roving  pirates  recognis- 
ing no  authority,  daring  mariners  swarmed  on  all  the  seas  of  the  Spanish  Main, 
capturing  their  vessels,  wasting  their  plantations,  or  even  seizing  the  islands  them- 
selves after  massacrins:  the  first  settlers.     Some  of  the  famous  navigators  of  the 


sisteentli  and  seventeenth  centuries  were  mere  corsairs,  scouring  the  high  seas 
and  occupying  islets,  such  as  Tortuga  at  the  north-west  angle  of  Haiti.  These 
islands  became  the  undisputed  possessions  of  the  buccaneers,  as  they  were  called, 
from  the  Carib  word  boucan,  smoked  fish  or  flesh,  doubtless  in  allusion  to  their 
ordinary  fare.  With  the  exception  of  Portugal,  which  already  possessed  the  vast 
territory  of  Brazil  besides  the  East  Indies,  all  the  European  powers  were  anxious 
to  secure  a  portion  of  the  CastHian  world  either  by  conquest,  purchase  or  treaty. 

Of  her  original  American  possessions,  Spain  now  retains  nothing  but  the  two 
Islands  of  Cuba,  the  pearl  of  the  Antilles,  and  Puerto  Rico.  All  the  rest  has 
been  forcibly  wrested  from  her,  and  even  her  hold  on  these  has  often  been  impe- 
rilled by  revolts  or  foreign  wars. 

England,  an  heretical  nation  in  whose  eyes  the  Papal  Bull  had  no  value. 

Fig.  3. — Political  States  of  Centeal  America. 
Scale  1  :  62,000,000. 


E.  Spanish.    A.  Enilish.    F.  French. 
H.  Dutch.    D.  Danish. 

,  1,240  Miles. 

became  the  mistress  of  tbe  large  island  of  Jamaica,  of  all  the  Bahamas,  the  Ber- 
mudas and  most  of  the  Lesser  Antilles,  beside  a  small  district  of  the  mainland  on 
the  south-east  coast  of  Yucatan.  To  the  share  of  France,  Holland,  and  Den- 
mark have  fallen  some  of  the  Lesser  Antilles,  and  even  Sweden  till  lately  held 
the  islet  of  St.  Bartholomew.  All  were  anxious  to  have  their  sugar  and  coffee 
plantations,  and  an  independent  insular  depot  for  their  colonial  produce. 

When  the  American  Republic  was  controlled  in  its  foreign  policy  by  the  southern 
slave  party,  the  Washington  Government  made  repeated  attempts  to  increase  its 
territory  by  the  acquisition  of  Cuba,  most  valuable  as  well  as  largest  of  all  the 
Antilles,     It  also  sought  to  establish  a  large  naval  station  at   the  St.  Domingan 


port  of  Samana,  one  of  the  most  important  strategical  harbours  in  tropical  America. 
Bat  the  opposition  of  the  northern  states,  and  to  some  extent  that  of  the  European 
powers,  prevented  the  realisation  of  their  projects,  which  had  for  primary  aim  the 
political  supremacy  of  the  slave-holding  landowners.  The  only  West  Indian  land 
belonging  de  facto,  if  not  to  the  States,  at  least  to  an  American  trading  company 
is  Navaza  (J^avassa),  a  rock  covered  with  a  deposit  of  guano,  off  the  west  coast  of 
Haiti.  As  soon  as  the  deposit  is  exhausted  the  Tiseless  islet  will  be  abandoned  as 
several  others  have  already  been  by  the  same  company. 

On  the  mainland  the  aspirations  of  the  all-powerful  republic  have  been  more 
abundantly  satisfied  than  in  the  Antilles,  and  more  than  half  of  the  territory 
formerly  belonging  to  !New  Spain,  that  is  to  say,  Texas,  California,  New  ilexico 
and  Arizona,  henceforth  forms  an  integral  portion  of  the  northern  confederacy. 
Kegotiations  have  also  been  entered  into  for  the  purchase  of  the  right  of  free 
transit,  in  other  words,  of  real  sovereignty  in  the  isthmus  of  Tehuantepec. 

Moreover,  some  filibustering  expeditions,  not  officially  sanctioned,  but  encour- 
aged in  every  way  by  irresponsible  agents,  were  undertaken  in  the  Central  American 
republics,  at  the  time  when  the  rush  was  made  from  Xew  York  and  the  Xew 
England  states  to  the  Californian  "  Eldorado."  In  virtue  of  the  same  law  by  which 
riverain  populations  gravitate  towards  the  mouths  of  the  streams  on  which  they 
dwell,  the  Americans  claimed  as  belonging  to  them  by  "  manifest  destiny  "  the 
shortest  route  which  at  that  period  connected  their  settlements  on  both  oceanic 
slopes.  But  if  their  essays  in  this  direction  proved  abortive,  they  at  all  events  suc- 
ceeded in  thwarting  the  English,  who,  like  themselves,  were  anxious  to  command  the 
shortest  interoceanic  highways,  and  for  this  purpose  had  occupied  the  Bay  Islands, 
near  the  Honduras  coast,  the  so-called  "  Kingdom  "  of  Mosquitia,  a  natiu'al  de- 
pendency of  Nicaragua,  and  even  the  port  of  Greytown  at  the  mouth  of  the  Lake 
Nicaragua  emissary. 

Then  came  the  construction  of  the  transcontinental  railways  in  United  States 
territory  itself,  and  this,  combined  with  the  energetic  resistance  of  the  Hispano- 
American  populations,  postponed,  at  least  for  a  time,  the  accomplishment  of  the 
national  aspirations  for  political  ascendency  in  the  Central  American  States. 

Since  the  epoch  that  followed  the  discovery  of  the  Californian  goldfields  the 
independence  of  the  Central  American  republics  has  not  again  been  threatened  by 
the  United  States.  But  the  "Washington  Government  has  steadily  pursued  a 
policy  calculated  to  prevent  European  influence  from  replacing  their  own,  and  at 
the  time  of  Maximilian's  accession  to  the  throne  of  Mexico  they  co-operated  by 
their  diplomatic  action  with  the  efforts  of  the  natives  to  recover  their  autonomy. 

At  present  all  the  mainland  of  Central  America.  British  Honduras  alone 
excepted,  is  constituted  in  independent  political  states.  Even  in  the  archipelagoes 
held  by  the  European  powers,  one  large  island  is  divided  between  two  sovereign 
nations,  the  San  Domingans,  a  mixed  Hispano-Xegro  people  of  Spanish  speech, 
and  the  Haitians,  of  African  descent  and  French  speech. 

Altogether  the  insular  world  presents  a  marked  contrast  with  the  neighbour- 
ing mainland,  not  only  in  its  political  status,  but  also  in  the  original  elements  of 



its  inhabitants.  Within  a  few  years  of  the  Spanish  conquest,  the  "West  Indian 
aborigines  had  almost  completely  disappeared.  The  natives  of  Haiti  and  Cuba, 
by  whom  the  first  European  mariners  had  been  well  received,  have  perished  to  a 
man.  The  Carib  populations  of  the  smaller  southern  islands  are  also  everywhere 
represented,  except  in  St.  Vincent  and  Dominica,  only  by  half-breeds. 

According  to  Bartholomew  de  las  Casas  "  the  Christians  caused  by  their 
tyrannies  and  infernal  deeds  the  death  of  over  twelve  million  souls — perhaps 
even  over  fifteen  millions— men,  women,  and  children."     However  approximately 

Fio-.  4.— Mexico  befoee  the  Annexations  to  the  United  States. 
Scale  1 :  27,000,000. 

West  or  bneenwich 





.  620  Miles. 

correct  may  be  this  frightful  estimate  made  by  the  famous  "  defender  of  the 
Indians,"  it  is  absolutely  certain  that  the  massacres  and  grinding  rule  of  the 
Spaniards  resulted  in  the  extermination  of  the  aborigines  throughout  the  Antilles, 
while  those  of  Mexico  and  Central  America  have  held  their  ground. 

Hence  the  necessity  of  Introducing  another  race  into  the  Islands  of  that  "  Carib- 
bean Sea,"  where  the  Carlbs  themselves  have  been  replaced  by  the  negroes. 
African  slaves  were  imported  by  millions  to  fill  the  void  made  by  the  wholesale  mas- 
sacre of  the  natives.  But  no  sj'stematic  records  are  now  available  to  determine  with 
any  accuracy  the  actual  nimiber  of  "human  cattle  "  thus  transferred  from  the  eastern 


to  the  western  shores  of  the  Atlantic  during  the  course  of  over  three  centuries. 
Some  writers  speak  of  ten  or  fifteen  millions ;  but  in  any  case  the  slave  trade  has 
cost  Africa  a  far  greater  number  of  lives  than  it  is  now  possible  to  calculate. 

Xearly  all  the  negroes  imported  during  the  early  period  of  the  traffic  perished, 
like  the  Caribs,  without  leaving  any  posterity.  Despite  their  ready  adaptation  to 
a  climate  which  differed  little  from  their  own,  most  of  them,  being  engaged  chiefly 
in  the  destructive  work  of  the  mines,  died  out  within  a  few  vears. 

Thus  it  happened  that  the  negro  race  was  very  slowly  established  in  the  Xew 
\Vorld,  being  gradually  constituted  of  a  thousand  different  ethnical  elements 
drawn  from  every  part  of  the  African  seaboard,  and  diversely  intermingled  with 
the  blood  of  their  European  masters.  Thanks  to  these  endless  crossings,  the 
native  dialects  of  the  slaves  disappeared,  and  amongst  the  idioms  current  in  the 
Antilles  only  a  few  words  can  now  be  traced  to  an  African  source.  The  slaves 
rapidly  adopted  the  languages  of  their  Spanish,  French,  or  English  owners.  But 
if  in  this  respect,  as  well  as  in  the  usages  and  outward  forms  of  civilisation,  they 
were  brought  under  European  influences,  their  physical  constitution  was  better 
suited  for  the  environment  of  the  TTest  Indies,  where  they  have  now  become  the 
numerically  dominant  race.  Except  in  Cuba,  where  the  Spaniards  form  the 
majoritj-  of  the  population,  and  perhaps  also  in  Puerto  Eico,  the  blacks  and 
people  of  colour  everywhere  form  by  far  the  most  numerous  element. 

This  part  of  the  Xew  "World,  the  first  discovered  by  the  Spaniards,  has  become 
an  ethnological  dependency  of  the  African  Continent,  and  by  a  sort  of  retributive 
justice,  the  negro  race  has  even  acquired  political  autonomy  in  the  large  island 
of  Haiti.  Such  an  event  is  not  without  a  certain  historic  importance.  The  des- 
pised race,  supposed  to  be  doomed  to  everlasting  servitude,  has  forcibly  entered 
into  the  number  of  sovereign  peoples.  It  has  not  only  victoriously  resisted  the 
efforts  made  to  again  bring  it  under  a  foreign  yoke,  but  despite  a  chronic  state 
of  intestine  strife  and  the  rivalries  of  ambitious  chiefs,  it  has  for  a  century  main- 
tained its  independent  position  amongst  its  powerful  and  hostile  neighbours. 

To  the  preponderance  of  the  negro  race  in  the  Antilles  corresponds  that  of 
the  Indians  in  ifexico  and  Central  America.  The  Spaniards  who  at  first  played 
the  part  of  truculent  masters  and  treated  the  aborigines  abominably,  are  now 
merged  with  them  under  the  name  of  ladinos.  So  true  is  this  that  the  mesti- 
20s,  or  half-castes  of  the  two  races,  constitute  the  chief  element  of  the  population 
throughout  the  northern  Hispano- American  republics.  According  to  the  official 
returns  the  white  race  is  in  a  majority  only  in  the  State  of  Costa  Rica.  Thus 
history  has  resumed  its  normal  course.  For  over  three  centuries  the  Spaniards 
had  lived  as  parasites  on  the  ilexican  populations,  and  in  accordance  with  a 
constant  law  of  nature,  this  parasitic  existence  had  incapacitated  them  for  vigorotis 
action.  Throughout  this  long  period,  the  peoples  of  the  colonial  empire  misgoverned 
by  Spain  remained  without  a  history.  Its  annals  were  mainly  reduced  to  a  bald 
record  of  the  appointment,  recall,  or  death  of  public  functionaries. 

But  below  a  seemingly  unrufiled  surface,  important  changes  were  maturing 
in  the  social  life  of  the  nation.     The   heterogeneous  racial  elements  were  being 


graduallT  fused  in  a  conunon  nationality,  with  like  customs,  ideas,  and  aspira- 
tions, and  \ntli  a  growing  capacity  for  acting  in  concert  for  the  general  welfare. 
Thus  it  was  that  when  the  metropolis,  overrun  with  foreign  armies,  found  itself 
unable  to  maintain  its  authority  in  the  Xew  "World,  Mexico,  Guatemala,  Honduras, 
and  the  other  Central  American  provinces,  were  suddenly  seen  to  develop  into 
armed  nations,  in  which  the  descendants  both  of  the  Spanish  CHanquerors  and  of 
the  conquered  aborigines  were  animated  by  a  common  sentiment. 

This  sudden  appearance  of  new  nations,  or  rather  the  revival  of  the  old  Ameri- 
can nation?,  clothed  in  a  vesture  of  civilisauon  different  from  that  which  they  had 
formerly  worn,  was  not  confined  to  the  central  regions,  but  took  place  also  in 
Colombia,  Venezuela,  Equador,  Peru — in  a  word,  throughout  the  whole  of  Spanish 
America.  By  a  curious  irony  of  fate,  the  Napoleonic  epoch,  which  was  supposed 
to  signalise  the  close  of  the  revolutionary  period,  and  the  re-establishment  of 
autocratic  government,  led  in  the  Xew  World,  on  the  contrary,  to  the  outburst  of 
a  general  movement  of  independence  for  the  Hispano- American  race.  From  that 
epoch  dates  the  modem  history  of  the  southern  continent. 

But  the  new  order  of  things  had  been  prepared  by  the  successful  revolt  of  the 
British  Xorth  American  colonies,  which  acquired  their  independence  several 
decades  before  the  uprise  of  the  Spanish  provinces.  Xot  only  were  the  English 
settlements  emancipated  at  an  earlier  date,  but  they  have  also  far  outstripped  the 
mixed  Spanish  communities  in  social  development  and  general  culture. 

Their  work,  however,  was  more  easily  accomplished,  and  in  some  respects  is  per- 
haps of  less  significance  in  the  history  of  mankind.  The  United  States  are,  so  to  say, 
little  more  than  an  expansion  of  the  Old  TTorld ;  in  their  ethnical  elements, 
whether  white  or  black,  tbey  reproduce  the  social  conditions  of  Europe  and  Africa 
in  another  environment,"  where  the  aboriginal  element  has  been  mainly  eliminated. 
The  tribes  that  have  not  been  extirpated,  or  that  have  not  been  effaced  by  complete 
absorption  in  the  surrounding  populations,  are  not  merged  in  the  social  system, 
but  live  apart,  either  still  in  the  wild  state,  or  in  reserves  under  Government 

But  the  conditions  are  very  different  in  Spanish  America,  where  the  bulk  of 
the  population  consists  of  "Hispanified  Indians,"  who,  while  receiving  European 
civilisation,  and  mixing  in  various  degrees  with  their  white  conquerors,  have  none 
the  less  remained  the  representatives  of  the  old  American  race.  The  Anglo- 
Saxons  have  destroyed  or  repelled  the  indigenous  populations ;  the  Iberians  have 
assimilated  them,  at  least  on  the  mainland.  In  Mexico,  and  in  the  other  Spanish 
repubh'cs,  crossings  and  common  usages  have  effected  a  reconciliation  between 
various  races  which  were  formerly  hostile,  and  even  totally  alien,  to  each  other. 

Latin  America,  where  heterogeneous  elements  still  persist,  cannot  yet  be 
compared  with  Anglo-Saxon  America  for  its  relative  importance  as  a  factor  in  the 
equilibrium  of  the  world.  But  the  various  republics  of  which  it  is  composed  are 
none  the  less  increasing  in  power  from  decade  to  decade,  and  are  already  suffici- 
ently consolidated  to  resist  foreign  encroachments.  Collectively,  they  occupy  con- 
siderably more  than  half  of   the  Xew  World,   for  they  comprise,   besides  the 



Antilles,  all  the  southern  part  of  North  America.  But  they  are  divided  by  the 
region  of  the  isthmuses  into  two  distinct  geographical  areas. 

In  her  almost  isolated  position,  Mexico  serves  as  an  advanced  bulwark  for  the 
whole  of  Spanish  America  against  the  Anglo-Saxon  world.  "Wars  and  diplomacy 
have  deprived  her  of  all  her  northern  territory,  her  outer  ramparts,  so  to  say ; 
but  she  still  retains  nearly  in  its  entirety  the  domain  where  the  Spanish-speaking 
populations  are  chiefly  concentrated. 

Characteristic  of  the  Mexican  nation  as  a  whole  is  the  incessant  struggle  it  is 
compelled  to  make  against  the  growing  influence  of  the  United  States.     Doubtless, 

Pig.  5. — Pbedomtnant  Kaces  in  Centeal  Ameeica. 
Scale  1  :  00,000,000. 

of  Intlians 
over  whites. 

Full  -blood  Indiana. 

Predominance — 

of  Indians  of  whites 

over  whites  over  blacks, 

and  blacks. 

of  whites 
over  Indians. 

of  blacks 
over  whites. 

.  1,240  MUes. 

of  blacks 
over  whites 
and  Indians. 

the  powerful  northern  confederacy  has  a  large  share  in  the  changes  which  are 
continually  going  on  in  Mexico.  Nevertheless,  the  Mexicans  seek  their  allies  in 
the  rest  of  Spanish  America,  and  especially  in  Europe,  and  even  in  France,  which 
not  so  long  ago  sent  an  expedition  to  destroy  their  political  autonomy.  They  call 
themselves  and  feel  themselves  "  Latins,"  and  the  very  term  ladino  has  become  syno- 
nymous with  "enlightened,"  or  "civilised"  throughout  Central  America. 

Should  the  emancipated  nations  of  the  earth  ever  group  themselves  according 
to  their  natural  affinities  and  regardless  of  distances,  the  Mexicans  and  the 
other  Latinised  peoples  of  America  will  inevitably  become  associated  with  the 
kindred  Latin  peoples  oi  Europe.      As  in  England  and  the  British  Colonies  a 


stron-  feeling  has  sprung  up  for  a  more  intimate  alliance  of  all  English-speaking 
comm°unities,  in  fact,  for  the  constitution  of  a  "Greater  Britain "  encircling  the 
globe-in  the  same  spirit  an  "Ibero-American"  society  has  been  founded  for  the 
formation  of  a  league  between  all  Spanish-speaking  states.  At  the  first  congress 
held  by  this  association  in  the  city  of  Mexico  in  1887,  as  many  as  nineteen  states 
were  represented  by  their  delegates.  Belt's  prophecy,  that  in  a  few  centunes 
English  would  be  the  mother-tongue  of  all  Americans,  from  the  Frozen  Isles  of 
the  great  north  to  the  Land  of  Fire,  does  not  seem  likely  to  be  fulfilled.  Jules 
Leclercq  has  even  ventured  to  assert  that  in  a  short  time  all  Mexico  will  be 
English.     But  this  is  a  delusion,  as  shown,  for  instance,  by  the  extreme  slowness 

Fig.  6.— Canals  and  Eootes  aceoss  the  IsiinniSES. 

Scale  1  :  20,000,000. 



Canal  in 

,  245  Miles. 


with  which  the  process  of  assimilation  is  proceeding  in  New  Mexico,  a  territory 
where,  at  the  time  of  the  annexation  to  the  United  States,  over  forty  years  ago. 
there  were  only  fifty  thousand  people  of  Spanish  speech. 

Sooner  or  later,  the  region  of  the  isthmuses  must  occupy  a  commercial  position 
of  the  first  importance,  for  here  will  assuredly  one  day  be  traced  the  great  line  of 
inter-communication  between  the  Atlantic  and  Pacific  Oceans.  Accordingly,  the 
Americans  might  well  suspect  the  European  powers  of  the  intention  of  seizing  one 
or  other  of  these  passages.  It  was,  in  fact,  the  fear  of  such  a  contingency  that 
inspired  the  «  Monroe  doctrine"  of  "America  for  the  Americans,"  thereby  for- 
mally reserving  the  possession  of  the  isthmuses  for  the  states  of  the  New  World. 


. «  • 





.•  *. 

/tx^'-V//,....x^  •  • 
'Ix  •  V#.,....X    •  • 




.  ^••••V/...vx\»/, 


The  vital  importance  of  these  narrow  tongues  of  land  was  perceived  by 
Columbus  himself,  as  he  coasted  along  the  shores  of  Veragua,  vainly  seeking  for 
the  marine  channel  through  which  the  two  oceans  were  supposed  to  communicate. 
But  this  channel,  or  rather  these  channels,  for  there  existed  more  than  one,  have 
been  closed  by  nature  since  the  tertiary  epoch,  and  the  work  of  re-opening  them 
must  now  be  undertaken  by  man.  Pending  the  accomplishment  of  this  enterprise, 
roads,  and  even  railways  have  been  laid  down  from  shore  to  shore.  The  southern 
series  of  isthmuses  is  already  traversed  by  two  railways,  those  of  Panama  and 
Costa  Pica,  and  several  others  have  been  begun. 

Unfortunately,  the  land  itself  is  still  indifferently  adapted  to  serve  as  a  high- 
way of  communication  between  "West  Europe  and  the  East  Asiatic  and  Austral- 
asian regions.  In  many  parts  of  Central  America,  journeys  across  the  forests, 
swamps,  and  unexplored  tracts  are  attended  by  imminent  risk.  Not  a  single 
explorer  is  known  to  have  yet  followed  the  direct  overland  route  from  Mexico  to 
Columbia.  Even  in  the  narrow  spaces  between  the  two  seas  it  is  dangerous  to 
deviate  from  the  beaten  tracks.  So  great  were  the  difficulties  of  travel  and  trans- 
port that  tni  recently  neither  east  Honduras,  north  Nicaragua,  nor  Costa  Rica 
possessed  any  outlets  on  the  Caribbean  Sea.  In  a  commercial  sense,  these  states 
could  scarcely  be  said  to  possess  an  Atlantic  seaboard  at  all.  All  national  life  and 
activity  was  centred  exclusively  on  the  side  facing  the  Pacific  Ocean,  and  from 
this  coast  the  communications  have  been  very  slowly  developed  across  the 
isthmuses  in  the  direction  of  the  Atlantic  waters.  Regarded  as  a  whole,  the 
inter-oceanic  region  is  still  almost  an  uninhabited  wilderness,  where  the  average 
population  scarcely  exceeds  ten  persons  to  the  square  mile. 



I. — General  Considerations. 

XCLUDINGr  the  Yucatan  peninsula,  the  territory  of  the  "  United 
States  of  Mexico  "  is  a  triangular  mass  which  forms  the  southern 
extremity  of  the  North  American  continent  properly  so  called. 
These  Hispano- American  United  States  are  bounded  on  the  east 
side  by  the  long  curve  of  the  Gulf  of  Mexico,  on  the  west  by  the 
shores  of  the  Pacific,  which  describe  a  still  more  extensive  arc  of  a  circle.  Both 
curves  gradually  converge  southwards  in  the  direction  of  the  Isthmus  of  Tehuan- 
tepec,  where  Central  America  proper  begins,  if  not  in  a  political,  at  least  in  a  geo- 
graphical and  historical  sense.  Both  on  the  north  and  south  sides,  the  frontiers 
are  purely  conventional,  corresponding  in  no  way  with  the  natural  parting  lines 
of  the  fluvial  basins. 

Doubtless,  the  north-east  frontier,  for  a  distance  of  about  750  miles,  is  traced 
by  the  Rio  Bravo  del  Norte,  which  separates  Mexico  from  Texas.  But  this 
narrow  stream  is  not  a  sufficiently  salient  geographical  feature  to  constitute  a 
true  dividing  line  ;  on  both  sides  the  plains  and  hills  present  the  same  general 
aspect,  and  are  subject  to  the  same  climate.  No  material  change  is  perceptible 
for  a  long  way  beyond  the  Texan  border,  where  the  population  grows  more  dense, 
and  arable  lands  begin  to  replace  the  unfertile  savannas. 

West  of  the  Rio  Bravo  the  frontiers,  as  laid  down  by  the  treaty  between 
Mexico  and  the  United  States,  are  a  mere  succession  of  geometrical  lines.  At  first 
they  coincide  with  31°  47'  north  latitude  for  a  distance  of  100  miles ;  then  they 
suddenly  drop  southwards  to  31°  20'  N.,  along  which  parallel  they  run  westwards 
to  111°  W.  of  Greenwich.  At  this  point,  the  line  is  drawn  obliquely  to  the  Rio 
Colorado,  20  miles  below  the  Rio  Gila  confluence,  and  then  ascends  this  river  to 
the  confluence  at  Yuma,  whence  it  follows  a  straight  Hne  across  the  neck  of 
the  Calif ornian  peninsula  to  the  Pacific  coast,  12  miles  south  of  San  Diego. 

Despite  the  fantastic  character  of  this  geometrical  frontier,  it  coincides  at 
certain  points  with  prominent  physical  traits  in  the  general  relief  of  the  land. 
Thus  it  connects  the  upper  Bravo  valley  with  the  head  of  the  Gulf  of  California, 
not  far  from  the  profound  depression  between  two  distinct  spurs  of  the  Rocky 
Mountains  traversed  by  the  Rio  Gila. 

At  the  other  extremity  of  the  Mexican  territory,  the  political  frontier  is  less 


justified  by  the  physical  conditious.  According  to  tlie  treaty  concluded  ^vith 
Guatemala  in  1822,  the  common  frontier  runs  from  the  Pacific  coast  near  the  little 
river  Suchiate,  across  the  main  range  to  the  Tacana  volcano,  and  the  Buenavista 
and  Isbul  heights,  and  thence  eastwards  along  the  parallel  of  1 6°  40'  to  the  left 
bank  of  the  Rio  Usumacinta,  the  course  of  which  river  it  shoidd  then  follow  to 
within  15  miles  to  the  south  of  the  town  of  Tenosique.  But  in  these  roughly 
explored  regions,  the  river  valleys  have  not  everywhere  been  accurately  determined 
and  certain  points  of  detail  still  remain  to  be  decided.  Bej'ond  the  Usumacinta 
the  line  runs  westwards  to  the  Eio  Hondo,  which  marks  the  boundary  of  British 
Honduras,  and  which  falls  into  Chetumal  Bay  at  the  south-east  corner  of  Yucatan. 
Comprising  all  the  outlying  territories,  and  the  remote  Revilla-Gigedo 
Archipelago,  Mexico  has  a  total  area  officially  estimated  at  790,000  square  miles, 
with  a  population  (1889)  of  over  11,000,000. 

In  its  main  outlines,  this  vast  region  was  already  known  about  the  middle  of 
the  sixteenth  century.  Within  twenty- four  years  of  the  conquest  explorers  had 
visited  all  the  coastlands,  and  had  penetrated  far  inland  from  Yucatan  to  California 
and  the  "seven  cities"  of  Cibola.  In  1502,  Columbus  had  already  met  Yucatan 
traders  on  the  coast  of  Honduras ;  but  it  was  only  in  1517  that  the  Cuban  planter, 
Hernandez  de  Cordoba,  during  a  slave-hunting  expedition,  discovered  the  first 
point  on  the  Mexican  seaboard,  the  present  Cape  Catoche,  at  the  north-west  corner 
of  Yucatan.  From  that  point  he  coasted  Yucatan  as  far  as  Champoton,  where  a 
disastrous  engagement  with  the  natives  compelled  the  Spaniards  to  re-embark. 

In  1518,  the  survey  of  the  coast  was  continued  by  Juan  de  Grijalva,  whose 
primary  object  was  to  punish  the  natives  for  the  reverse  of  the  previous  year,  but 
who  pushed  forward  beyond  Champoton  some  600  miles  to  the  spot  where  now 
stands  the  town  of  Tampico. 

A  third  expedition,  under  Cortes,  followed  in  1519 ;  but  instead  of  keeping 
timidlj'  to  the  seaboard,  this  daring  adventurer  aimed  at  the  conquest  of  an  empire. 
How  he  effected  his  purpose,  with  what  courage,  sagacity,  and  prudence,  but  also 
with  what  perfidy  and  ferocious  contempt  of  the  vanquished,  is  now  a  familiar 
tale.  In  1521,  the  capital  and  surrounding  districts  were  finally  reduced,  and 
armed  expeditions  were  sent  in  all  directions  to  extend  the  bounds  of  "  New 
Spain."  Olid  and  Sandoval  penetrated  through  the  provinces  of  Michoacan  and 
CoUma  westwards  to  the  Pacific.  Alvarado  pushed  southwards  through  the  high- 
lands as  far  as  Guatemala.  Cortes  himself  occupied  the  Panuco  country  on  the 
eastern  slope  of  the  mountains  skirting  the  north  side  of  the  Mexican  basin.  Then, 
being  recalled  southwards  by  the  revolt  of  his  lieutenant.  Olid,  who  had  crossed  by 
water  to  Honduras,  he  advanced  south-eastwards  to  Tabasco,  Chiapas,  and  the 
territory  of  the  Lacandons  and  Mopans. 

Of  all  the  expeditions  undertaken  by  Cortes,  none  was  more  surprising  than 
this  march  across  rivers,  swamps,  and  uninhabited  forests.  In  crossing  the 
Tabasco  plains  he  had  to  construct  as  many  as  "  fifty  bridges  within  a  space  of 
twenty  leagues."  Supplies  fell  short,  and  his  followers  had  to  subsist  on  roots, 
berries,  and  vermin.     Even  at  present  few  travellers,  with  aU  the  resourceo  of 



cmlisation  at  tlieir  disposal,  have  the  courage  to  follow  the  route  opened  by  Cortes. 
After  his  time  none  of  the  Spanish  conquerors  took  the  trouble  of  occupying  this 
wilderness.  They  were  satisfied  ^yith  the  reduction  of  Yucatan,  the  conquest  of 
which,  nevertheless,  occupied  fully  fifteen  years,  from  1527  to  1542. 

Although  the  less  wealthy  and  less  densely  peopled  north-western  regions  had 
fewer  attractions  for  the  invaders  than  the  southern  provinces,  expeditions  were 
despatched  in  that  direction  also.  Vessels,  whose  sails  and  equipment  had  been 
conveyed  from  "Vera  Cruz  across  the  Mexican  plateau,  coasted  the  seaboard  towards 
the  Gulf  of  California,  the  entrance  of  which  was  reached  by   a  squadron  under 

Fig.  7.— FiBST  MExiOAif  Itdteeaeies,  1517  to  1550. 
Scale  1 :  30,000,000. 


West    or  brcenwicH 

.  620  Miles. 

Cortes  in  the  year  1533.  To  the  great  captain  this  burning  region  owes  its  very 
name  of  calidafornax  (hot  furnace),  afterwards  corrupted  to  California. 

In  1539,  Francisco  de  Ulloa  penetrated  into  the  inner  waters  of  the  "Vermil- 
lion Sea,"  so  named  either  from  the  red  sea-weed  abounding  in  some  of  the  inlets, 
or,  according  to  Pinart,  more  probably  from  the  deep  red  colour  of  the  sands 
lining  its  shores.  The  following  year  Alarcon  completed  the  exploration  of  the 
gulf,  and  even  penetrated  85  "  leagues  "  up  the  River  Buena-Guia,  afterwards  re- 
named the  Rio  Colorado. 

In  1512,  Cabrillo,  rounding  the  headland  of  Cape  St.  Lucas  at  the  extremity 
of  the  Californian  peninsula,  sailed  northwards  along  the  Pacific  coast  to  a  pro- 
montory supposed  to  be  the  present  Cape  Mendocino,  beyond  40°  N.  lat. 

On  the  mainland,  Nunez  Cabeza  de  Vaca,  escaping  from  the  perils  of  a  daring 
march  across  the  Floridas,  reached  Mexico  from  the  north  in  1536.     Between 


■^  ri-yl la„n 
It,-    -?,— -  X  '^Ta.^it'i?^'*'^'^" 

'■"™^..,»„.    ,„  ■-.  S         "      =/— ^  («Wrf,„j,    -i   Victoria  : 

iacatecaTjOjoCiUiTOU.    \  i*-      TUli°  _  -,       ,  .^„ 
■^  _  Ai^uasCalientss  jSjWPotosi 


CalOTc.J,      pr^ 






1'  ft'-^'itiit  Ojjl^ 

C'/A^r/o^^.i        _^ 

«.^'*5^f:i.».*    -^'^MlVn"-).       i.Ai;SA>^^'''«"»»«S  ^  M.5«*^ 




"  ^t 


Scale,    I  12,000.000^ 

0      50     100    150    200  150 


Towns  of    2"^0rder 
Other  towns  &Anila^es 


Oto   3  000  feet 
3  000  to   6  000    „ 

6  000U)  nooo  „ 

12C00tol8  00O    „ 
18  000  upwards 


♦l,b  310  Miles. 

,  Over  lOO.OOOmhahitaiits 
a     „       50.000       „ 
10000       „ 
.Dndfir    10.000       „ 
Depths  • 

0  to  50  0  fsihijuis 
500  ta  1000  „ 
1  COO  to  2  000  ., 
2.000.10  3.00O  „ 
S.OOO  u  4..000  ,, 
4-.000.  upyrards 
















^7^  '  *    Qyliuinic"^  Ts 





■\      •llrtwkiiu.-pillp 
J     TlioiiuisvjII<-  \     'li     ' 

Live  Oak    ,'f    ■ 


t  'liantM^tU-  Is. 










''".'-West  f  * 

HAVANA  (rtUDidbarpvi 

■'^  Jatrihiiltbir  " 


Ti'ul  * 



iiB,,im„.i..„.  '■^i'rt.'i-Jc.i».i*-  ^ 

'  —:i  T,-l,...uif^,-Vi«hitfti 

■^   . —      ..  . ._      t 


»;'       .«vnr.Tk,;J3,„.„,„I.,.„, 

-— ,  "  --'-VC,  Chanipoloin 

Tikal      foro; 

f.itfj^  0:nuivi 

Oi^f^t  r^rtiuiU 



''''"-y'''/>'-<n,j.l,.72™  S.CoS«bal^.L,,l,,^ 
j^    ,  :_j>»'!  T,-i,...u,f^,-Vi«hitft, '       -V  «>i   rA 
fTf  '-^^  s<,iii».fv,.4 /.A''"'''-"*"""    ■<■     "* 

.  ,  JInalulcn       ,  c 



"^z-  ■--. 

^  "■''t       f'tH-Jcscftiiiii 

1         S.fhmAs 

»:         .s.Bem(V  ',•>  .i¥«g„G  U  A  T  t  IVI'A,C'A'  1     ,  -^'S     U      8 "A' 

COa^  das  a  I>io 


.S..Iuan  iJpISuj-         j.    j/v        "" 
C    '   -       - 

Libfi-ia     ;    %^7*  ^    Mfisfjui 



90  Meridian' of  Greenwich.. 


;  Ue  &.  c- 


1530  and  1532  the  atrocious  Xuuo  de  Guzman  had  reduced  the  provinces  of 
Jalisco  and  Sinaloa  ;  then,  in  1539,  the  Franciscan  friar,  Marcos  de  Xiza,  advanced 
far  into  the  region  which  is  now  known  as  Xew  ilexico,  and  which  lies  within  the 
United  States  frontier.  Here  he  claimed  to  have  ?cen  the  marvellous  Cibola, 
which  was  soon  afterwards  shown  bjr  the  expedition  under  Coronado  to  be  nothing 
more  than  one  of  those  villages  belonging  to  the  Zufii  nation,  where  the  whole 
population  dwells  in  one  huge  fortiiied  building  erected  around  a  central  court. 
Coronado's  expedition,  which  lasted  over  two  years,  from  1540  to  1512,  and  which 
was  intended  to  co-operate  with  Alarcon's  sea  voyage,  resulted  iu  the  occupation 
and  settlement  of  Sonora,  the  north-westernmost  state  of  the  present  republic. 

But  although  the  ilexican  territory,  properly  so  called,  had  now  been  traversed 
in  all  directions,  the  itineraries  farther  removed  from  the  capital  had  not  yet 
been  utilised  for  the  construction  of  maps,  nor  could  this  be  done  with  any  ap- 
proach to  accuracy  in  the  absence  of  astronomic  determinations.  In  1542,  the 
viceroy  ilendoza  was  still  engaged  in  fixing  the  position  of  the  city  of  ifexico 
at  25  degrees,  -12  minutes  farther  west  than  its  real  meridian,  the  calculations 
being  deduced  from  the  observation  of  two  lunar  eclipses.  Even  so  late  as  1579, 
the  map  published  by  Ortelius  gives  only  the  central  district  round  about  the 
capital  with  a  fair  degree  of  acciiracy. 

Despite  all  the  explorations  along  the  Califomian  seaboard,  it  was  even  still 
maintained  that  California  itself  had  been  circiminavigated,  and  its  iasular  character 
thus  fully  established  ;  hence  the  Jesuit,  Salvatierra,  who  began  the  settlement 
of  this  region  in  1697,  gave  it  the  name  of  Lsia  Carolina  (Caroline  Island).  In 
fact,  the  researches  of  the  early  explorers  were  not  confirmed  till  the  begiuniag  of 
the  eighteenth  century  by  the  missionary,  Kiihn,  the  Eino  of  Spanish  writers. 

It  appears  from  the  manuscript  documents  possessed  by  the  Madrid  Academia  de 
Sktoria,  and  from  the  collections  preserved  in  Mexico,  that  as  early  as  the  seven- 
teenth century  the  national  archives,  unfortunately  closed  to  the  student,  contained 
all  the  elements  necessary  for  a  complete  and  detailed  description  of  Xew  Spain. 
Nearly  all  the  memoirs  forwarded  to  the  Council  of  the  Indies  were  accompanied 
by  plans.  Xevertheless,  even  the  best  maps  were  disfigured  by  errors  of  half  a 
degree  of  latitude,  and  from  one  to  two  degrees  of  longitude. 

Alexander  von  Humboldt's  journey  in  1803  and  1801  has  been  described  as  a 
"  second  discovery  of  Mexico."  .AH  the  known  parts  of  Xew  Spain  were  certainly 
not  visited  by  the  great  explorer ;  but  his  vast  knowledge  and  intelligence  enabled 
him  to  co-ordinate  the  itineraries  of  his  predecessors,  comparing  and  controlling 
one  with  another,  and  deducing  from  them,  at  least  for  the  region  of  the  plateau, 
the  true  form  of  the  Mexican  relief. 

He  also  studied  the  physical  phenomena  of  the  land,  its  igneous  eruptions  and 
thermal  springs,  the  vertical  disposition  of  its  climates  and  flora,  the  direction  and 
force  of  the  winds  prevailing  on  this  part  of  the  planet,  the  extent  of  its  rainfall, 
the  variations  of  its  magnetic  currents.  Besides  all  this,  he  compared  the  mineral, 
agricultural,  and  industrial  resources  of  Mexico  with  those  of  other  regions,  and 
ttius  determined  its  relative  value  amongst  the  civilised  regions  of  the  globe. 

VOL.    XVII.  C 



After  tlie  long  sleep  imposed  upon  I^f exico  by  the  system  of  absolute  monopoly,  tbe 
labours  of  Humboldt  were  a  sort  of  revelation ;  he  showed  what  the  Spanish  colony 
was  capable  of  at  the  very  time  when  its  emancipation  was  already  at  hand. 

The  exploration  of  the  country  was  necessarily  interrupted  during  the  revolu- 
tionary period.  But  when  Mexico  at  last  established  its  independence,  travellers 
began  again  to  visit  this  part  of  the  American  continent,  henceforth  declared  free 
to  all  comers.  After  the  wars  Burkart  followed  in  the  footsteps  of  Humboldt, 
and  spent  nearly  ten  years  in  traversing  most  of  the  mineral  regions  of  the 

Burkart's  work  was  continued  by  other  explorers  of  every  nationality,  amongst 

Pig.  8. — Chief  Positions  scrENTmcAiLY  detebmined  in  Mexico. 

Scale  1  :  30,000.000. 

West    oF    Gpeernfl!cf> 

Humboldt  and  his 

Other  observators 
down  to  1S74. 

.  620  JUIes. 

them  the  Americans,  Stephens  and  Cathcrwood,  who  carefully  studied  the  re- 
markable monuments  still  standing  in  the  southern  part  of  the  territory.  But  the 
Mexicans  themselves  also  began  to  take  an  interest  in  scientific  investigations ;  and 
in  1839,  a  geographical  and  statistical  bureau  was  founded  in  the  capital.  This 
association,  which  is  one  of  the  oldest  of  the  kind,  in  the  world,  has  issued  valuable 
memoirs  on  nearly  every  part  of  the  confederacy.  It  has  also  prepared  the  mate- 
rials for  a  general  map  of  Mexico  on  a  larger  scale  than  that  of  Humboldt,  which 
was  partly  produced  in  sections,  and  afterwards  as  a  groundwork  for  Garcia  Cubas' 
atlas,  the  first  edition  of  which  apjjcared  in  1856. 

Then  came  the  trigonometric  survey  of  the  Anahuac  Valley  under  the  direction 



of  Covarrubias,  wliicli  formed  the  starting-point  for  accurate  geographical  work. 
Men  of  learning,  such  as  Orozco  y  Berra  and  Pimentel,  also  made  exjiensive 
researches  on  the  distribution  of  the  aboriginal  tribes  of  Mexico,  on  the  history 
of  their  migrations,  the  origin,  affinities,  and  structure  of  their  languages. 

The  American  officers  who  penetrated  into  North  Mexico  during  the  war  of 
1846,  and  again  in  connection  with  the  delimitation  of  the  frontiers,  also  took 
part  in  the  topographical  researches ;  the  maps  prepared  by  them  for  Sonora, 
Chihuahua:,  Coahuila,  Nuevo-Leon,  and  Tamaulipas  still  remain  the  best  docu- 
ments for  the  study  of  those  provinces.  The  chief  marine  charts,  especially 
those  of  lower  California,  are  also  the  work  of  United  States  surveyors. 

But  works  are  now  In  progress  with  a  view  to  the  preparation  of  a  topo- 

Fig.  9.— Regions  studied  by  the  Oi-ficees  op  the  Fbench  Expedition. 

Scale  1  :  620  Mjles. 


.  620  Miles. 

graphical  map  on  the  scale  of  -j-T'oV'oT'  '^liich  will  be  worthy  of  comparison  with 
those  of  the  most  advanced  states,  and  which  takes  as  starting-points  on  one 
hand  the  Mexican  Yalley  and  environs  of  Puebla,  on  the  other  the  northern 
regions  studied  by  the  American  and  Slexican  Boundary  Commissions.  The 
cartographic  service  in  the  army  of  the  republic  comprises  as  many  as  120  persons 
trained  for  the  work. 

The  period  of  preliminary  explorations  is  now  all  but  closed,  except  perhaps 
for  some  parts  of  the  border-lands  towards  Guatemala,  where  so  recently  as  1882 
a  "  dead  city  "  was  discovered  by  Mr.  Maudslaj'  and  explored  by  M.  Chai'nay, 



II. — Mexico  Proper,  North  of  the  Isthmus  of  Tehuantepec. 

Taken  as  a  whole  Mexico  properly  so  called  may  be  regarded  as  a  lofty  table- 
land, on  which  stand  mountain  ranges  and  masses,  which,  despite  Humboldt's  oft- 
repeated  generalisation,  hare  no  kind  of  connection  in  their  relief  or  general 
trend  with  the  Andean  sj-stem  of  South  America.  They  should  be  grouped 
rather  with  that  of  California,  though  still  with  numerous  interruptions. 

Mountains  and  Volcanoes. 

The  mean  altitude  of  the  whole  region  is  estimated  at  no  less  than  3,600  feet. 
A  plane  passing  at  this  elevation  above  the  ocean  would  detach  from  the  sustaining 
pedestal  an  enormous  triangular  mass,  whose  apes  would  terminate  in  the  south- 
east above  the  Tehuantepec  depression,  and  whose  base  would  be  prolonged  by 
two  parallel  horns  projecting  in  the  direction  of  the  United  States. 

The  great  central  Mexican  plateau  is  thus  seen  to  be  limited  on  the  sides 
facing  the  Atlantic  and  Pacific  Oceans  by  border  ranges,  or  at  least  by  a  succession 
of  heights  or  ridges  forming  a  more  or  less  continuous  escarpment.  Both  of  these 
border  ranges  have  received  the  designation  of  Sierra  Ifadre,  "  Main  Chain  ; "  a 
term,  however,  which  recurs  in  almost  every  part  of  Spanish  America,  where  it  is 
freel}^  applied  to  the  dominating  crests  of  the  country. 

Like  all  border  ranges,  the  Mexican  sierras  present  striking  conti'asts  between 
their  opposite  sides,  those  facing  inland  falling  somewhat  gradually  down  to  the 
plateau,  while  those  turned  towards  the  oceans  are  far  more  abrupt,  intersected  by 
scarps  and  cliffs,  furrowed  by  deep  crevasses,  continually  modified  by  landslips, 
and  scored  by  tremendous  barrancas  (chasms  or  gorges). 

The  whole  region,  which  contracts  gradually  southwards  between  the  two 
border  ranges,  forms,  so  to  saj%  a  large  avenue  terminating  in  a  labyrinth.  The 
successive  waves  of  migratory  populations  coming  from  the  north  were  attracted 
from  stage  to  stage  towards  the  southern  angle,  that  is,  towards  the  basin  of 
Mexico  aiid  the  plains  of  Pucbla,  which  are  bounded  on  the  south  by  the  Junta, 
that  is,  the  "  Junction,"  or  converging-point  of  the  two  sierras. 

To  the  triangular  depression  left  between  these  sierras  the  expression  Mexican 
"plateau"  is  often  applied  ;  it  is  also  occasionally  called  the  Anahuac  plateau,  or 
simply  Anahuac,  „  terms  borrowed  from  Clavigero  and  Humboldt.  Nevertheless 
the  mesa  or  "  table  "  of  Mexico  presents  no  continuous  level  surface,  as  might  be 
supposed  from  the  current  expressions.  The  depression  A'iewed  as  a  whole 
presents  rather  a  succession  of  basins,  for  the  most  part  of  lacustrine  origin,  which 
follow  at  constantly  diminishing  altitudes  in  the  direction  from  north  to  south. 
But  the  separating  barriers  present  such  slight  obstacles  to  migrations  and  travel 
that  during  the  last  century  a  highway  was  easily  constructed  from  the  capital  to 
Santa  Fe  in  New  Mexico ;  carriages  could  be  driven  from  one  city  to  the  other 
along  this  road,  nearly  1,400  miles  long. 

In  the  southern  districts  round  about  Mexico  the  basins  are  of  relatively  small 



extent,  but  exceed  6,600  feet  in  altitude ;  even  the  Toluca  basin,  in  the  angle 
formed  by  the  two  diverging  main  ranges,  stands  at  a  mean  height  of  8,500  feet 
above  the  sea.  Going  northwards  from  Anahuac  the  continually  diverging  sierras 
give  more  space  for  elevated  plains,  and  in  the  northern  regions  the  vast  expanses 
enclosed  by  the  encii'cling  ranges  present  almost  perfectly  level  surfaces,  broken 
only  by  low  ridges.  As  they  stretch  northwards  these  expanses  fall  in  the  direc- 
tion of  the  east,  and  the  east  sierra  itself  is  much  narrower,  its  mean  elevation 
being  6,500  feet,  or  about  1,600  feet  less  than  that  of  the  western  escarpment. 
A  third  range,  parallel  with,  but  completely  separated  from,  the  two  sierras 

Fig  10. — Bkt.tkf  of  Mexico. 
Scale  1  :  30,000,t<X). 


V/est  op  breerwrc^ 


0  to  3.300 

3.300  to  6,600 



6,600  to  9,900 


J,900  to  16,500 

.  620  lliles. 

16,500  Feet  and 

enclosing  the  Mexican  tablelands,  traverses  the  Califomian  peninsula  at  different 
elevations  and  with  two  interruptions.  Isolated  eminences,  "  lost  mountains,"  as 
they  are  called,  are  dotted  over  the  space  comprised  between  the  highlands  of  the 
American  California  and  the  range  traversing  the  peninsula  which  belongs  to 
Mexico,  but  which  continues  the  axis  of  the  Sierra  Madre. 

The  mountains  of  this  peninsula,  varying  as  they  do  in  height  and  form,  must 
therefore  be  regarded  as  forming  an  orographic  system  quite  distinct  from  that  of 


Mexico  proper.  Ifot  far  from  tte  neck  of  the  peninsula  the  system  culminates  in 
Mount  Calauiahue,  or  Santa  CataUna,  terminating  in  a  peak  white  as  snow  and 
rising  10,000  feet  above  the  sea. 

The  northern  chain,  which  skirts  the  Pacific  coast,  ends  north  of  the  spacious 
Sebastian  Yiscaino  Bay,  beyond  which  it  merges  through  gently  inclined  plateaux 
in  a  ridge  rising  above  the  eastern  shores  of  Lower  California.  These  mountains, 
which  are  of  tertiary  formation,  are  interrupted  by  deep  ravines,  bej'ond  which 
rises  the  volcanic  group  of  the  Tres  Virgenes  ("Three  Virgins"),  situated  almost 
exactly  in  the  middle  of  the  peninsula,  which  has  a  total  length  of  about  1,300 
miles.  The  peaks  of  this  group  appear  scarcely  to  exceed  6,600  feet,  though 
raised  by  some  authorities  to  7,250  feet.  But  considerable  discrepancies  occur  in 
the  elevations  given  by  different  writers  for  most  of  the  Mexican  moimtains. 

No  eruption  has  taken  place  since  1857  in  the  Tres  Yirgenes  group,  where 
nothing  has  been  noticed  except  some  vapours  rising  from  the  crevasses.  All  the 
other  volcanoes  in  Lower  California  are  extinct,  mineral  and  thermal  springs,  with 
a  few  solfataras,  being  the  only  evidences  of  underground  activity.  West  of  the 
igneous  group  a  chain  of  hills  traverses  the  peninsula  at  an  altitude  of  3,450 
feet,  and  is  continued  seawards  bj'  some  lofty  islands  at  its  north-west  extremitj-. 

South  of  the  Tres  Yirgenes  a  ridge  of  tertiary  sandstones,  faUiug  abruptly 
eastwards  and  presenting  a  gentle  incline  towards  the  Pacific,  extends  as  far  as 
La  Paz  Bay.  But  despite  its  name,  the  Cerro  de  la  Giganta,  the  culminating 
point  falls  below  4,600  feet,  while  the  mean  height  of  the  ridge  appears  to  be  little 
more  than  3,000  feet.  The  extremity  of  the  peninsula  south  of  La  Paz  forms  a 
sort  of  granitic  island  terminating  in  two  parallel  crests,  one  of  which  has  an  extreme 
height  of  6,220  feet.  Mineral  deposits,  including  gold,  silver,  copper,  and  iron, 
occur  in  nearly  all  these  coast  ranges  ;  gold  prevails  in  the  schists  of  the  west 
coast,  silver  ores  chiefly  in  the  porphyries  on  the  opposite  side. 

Lower  or  South  California,  however,  notwithstanding  its  narrow  width, 
rendering  it  easily  accessible  to  travellers,  is  a  comparatively  unknown  region 
owing  to  its  excessive  dryness  and  scantj'  population.  The  mountain  heights  have 
for  the  most  part  only  been  measured  or  estimated  at  a  distance  by  marine  surveyors. 
Mariners  also  have  chiefly  studied  the  character  of  the  coasts,  one,  washed  by  the 
Gulf  of  California,  steep  and  rocky,  the  other  faUing  in  gentle  inclines  towards 
the  Pacific  Ocean,  which  in  many  places  is  fringed  by  low  beaches  and  sandy 
islets.  The  ranges  on  the  east  side  rise  precipitously  above  the  profoimd  chasm, 
through  which  the  sea  has  penetrated  far  inland  between  Mexico  and  the  peninsula. 

The  islands  on  the  east  side  are  disposed  in  a  perfectly  parallel  axis  with  the 
peninsular  ranges,  and  rise  to  considerable  heights.  Angel  de  la  Guardia,  amongst 
others,  has  an  elevation  of  4,320  feet,  and  collectively  these  islands  of  Lower 
California  have  a  greater  extent  than  all  the  other  ilexican  islands  taken  together. 

Intersected  by  the  straight  line  forming  the  geometrical  frontier  of  Arizona, 
the  various  chains,  which  are  limited  northwards  by  the  depression  of  the  Eio  Gila, 
penetrate  into  the  territory  of  Sonora  and  Chihuahua  in  parallel  ridges  with  a 
south-eastern  trend.     These  various  ranges  are  collectively  grouped  under  the 


general  desiguation  of  Sierra  Maclre.  In  their  central  parts  thoy  consist  chiefly 
of  granites  and  syenites,  but  sedimentary  formations  are  also  largely  represented, 
especially  by  a  carboniferous  limestone  interspersed  with  thin  deposits  of  anthracite. 

As  in  the  Lower  Californian  Mountains,  igneous  eruptions  have  occurred  at  a 
great  many  points,  and  vast  expanses  on  the  plains  and  slopes  of  the  hills  are 
covered  with  molten  lavas.  One  of  the  cones  is  not  even  yet  quite  extinct,  the 
Pinacate  volcano  (5,450  feet),  which  lies  beyond  the  Sierra  Madre  proper,  some  GO 
miles  east  of  the  Colorado  estuary.  In  the  middle  of  a  vast  lava  field  stretching 
south  of  the  mountain,  rise  a  few  secondary  cones,  one  of  which  is  pierced  by  a 
cave  from  which  escape  copious  sulphurous  exhalations.  To  the  genius  of  the  place 
the  neighbouring  Indians  bring  propitiatory  ofEerings  of  shells,  darts,  and  the  like. 

The  mean  altitude  of  the  Sonera  Mountains  scarcely  exceeds  5,000  feet,  but 
some  of  the  spurs  projecting  westwards  rise  much  higher  near  the  coast,  where 
they  present  an  all  the  more  imposing  aspect  that  they  are  here  visible  from  base 
to  summit,  with  their  terminal  cliffs  and  escarpments  springing  from  the  level  of 
the  sea.  Such  are,  near  the  Arizona  frontier,  the  Sonoala  highlands,  one  of  whose 
peaks  has  an  elevation  of  9,500  feet.  Such,  also,  the  Alamos,  or  "  Poplar  "  group 
(5,900  feet),  in  the  south  of  Sonora,  followed  by  other  coast  ranges  in  Sinaloa.  In 
winter  their  lofty  crests  are  streaked  with  snow,  and  all  of  them  contain  numerous 
silver  lodes  irregularly  crossing  each  other  in  all  directions. 

South-east  of  Sonora  the  Sierra  Madre  rises  graduall}',  while  still  retaining  the 
same  geological  formation  and  general  aspect.  Ilere  the  Cumbre  de  Jesus  Maria, 
in  the  Tarahumara  uplands,  exceeds  8,240  feet,  and  the  Frailecitos  peak,  near 
Batopilas,  is  said  to  fall  little  short  of  9,900  feet.  As  they  increase  in  height  the 
crests  draw  continually  nearer  to  the  coast,  and  thus  present  more  precipitous 
flanks  towards  the  sea.  From  the  coast  lagoons  and  dunes  the  horizon  is  bounded 
by  a  long  line  of  lofty  crests  penetrating  into  the  zone  of  clouds  and  vapour. 

The  line  of  these  crests  and  of  the  so-called  bufas,  or  jagged  heights,  develops  a 
continuous  chain  at  a  mean  distance  of  about  60  miles  from  the  sea.  Several  of 
its  summits  exceed  10,000  feet,  while  the  Cumbre  Pimal,  in  the  Sierra  del  Nayarit, 
attains  an  altitude  of  12,350  feet.  But  farther  soiith  the  outer  terrace  of  the 
Mexican  tableland,  and  the  mountains  dominating  it,  lose  all  apparent  regularity 
In  their  general  outlines.  The  groups,  connected  together  by  passes  at  diiferent 
elevations,  have  no  longer  a  uniform  direction,  and  here  the  loftiest  ridges,  all 
noted  for  their  extremely  rich  argentiferous  deposits,  lie  more  to  the  east ;  south- 
wards the  whole  system  Is  Interrupted  by  the  deep  valley  of  the  Rio  Lerma. 

Immediately  opposite  this  breach  and  about  60  miles  seaward  rises  the  insular 
chain  of  the  Tres  Marias  and  the  San  Juanito,  which  are  disposed  in  the  direction 
from  north-west  to  south-east,  parallel  with  the  main  continental  range.  In  these 
Islands  the  highest  cone,  2,430  feet,  has  been  the  scene  of  volcanic  eruptions. 

Nor  were  volcanoes  formerly  absent  In  the  section  of  the  Sierra  Madre  which 
lies  to  the  north  of  the  Rio  Lerma.  In  several  places  are  still  seen  lava  fields, 
some  destitute  of  vegetation,  others  forest- clad.  Here  also  rise  mounds  of  scorloe 
and  ashes,  and  the  BreSa  district  especially,  which  stretches  south  of  Purango,  is  a 


cliaos  of  crevasses  and  lava  streams,  a  ma/jxd-s,  or  "  bad  land,"  very  difficult  to 
traverse.  But  aU  the  underground  furnaces  have  long  been  extinguished  north 
of  the  Lerma  valley.  South  of  this  parting-line  begins  the  region  of  inland 
lava  seas,  indicated  by  the  chain  of  burning  mountains  which  here  runs  obliquely 
across  Mexico  from  ocean  to  ocean.  Some  of  the  cones  are  quite  isolated,  or  else 
rise  above  detached  groups,  while  others  lie  on  the  very  axis  of  the  main  ranges. 

Near  its  Pacific  extremitj%  the  Ceboruco  or  Ahuacatlan  peak  (7,140  feet)  is 
the  first  eminence  in  this  igneous  belt.  It  forms  part  of  a  chaotic  group  almost 
entirely  separated  from  the  Sierra  JIadre  by  the  valleys  and  passes  commanded  by 
the  city  of  Guadalajara.  In  1870  it  entered  on  a  state  of  \'iolent  eruption,  and 
since  then  it  has  never  ceased  to  emit  gases  and  igneous  vapours.  Ceboruco  is  the 
centre  of  numerous  craters,  of  which  the  two  largest,  one  extinct,  the  other  still 
smoking,  are  each  1,000  feet  deep.  They  lie  close  together,  being  separated  only 
by  a  narrow  ridge  formed  of  cones  in  juxtaposition. 

Farther  south  Colima,  which  also  ejects  vapours,  j^resents  in  its  collective 
phenomena  a  general  analogy  to  Ceboruco.  Despite  its  great  elevation  (12,800 
feet)  this  superb  cone  is  merely  the  southern  spur  of  a  still  more  elevated 
porphyry  mass,  which  the  natives  call  the  Vokan  de  Nieve  ("  Snowy  Volcano  "), 
although  its  crest  does  not  terminate  in  a  crater.  The  depression  seen  on  the 
summit,  usually  supposed  to  be  an  extinct  crater,  appears  to  be  nothing  more  than 
an  amphitheatre  formed  of  two  ravines  whose  torrents  descend  to  the  Pacific. 

On  the  slopes  of  the  Volcan  de  Nieve  the  upper  limit  of  the  forest  zone  stands 
no  higher  than  13,000  feet.  Here  begin  the  snows  which  are  permanent  through- 
out the  year  on  all  the  bare  parts  of  the  crest.  From  the  terminal  point  (14,300 
feet),  the  mountain  slopes  southwards  towards  the  Yolcan  del  Fuego,  which  is 
separated  by  a  rocky  rampart  from  the  neighbouring  colossus. 

At  Colima  eruptions,  rare  during  the  last  century,  have  in  recent  j'ears  become 
more  frequent.  In  1869,  1872,  1873,  and  1885,  masses  of  ashes  have  been 
ejected,  and  borne  by  the  atmospheric  currents  as  far  as  San  Luis-Potosi,  280 
miles  to  the  north-east.  Lavas  have  also  been  discharged  during  these  dis- 
turbances, but  nearly  all  have  flowed  from  lateral  cones,  the  "  Sons  of  Colima," 
and  from  eminences  scattered  over  the  surrounding  valleys. 

The  Calabozo  lagoon,  whose  deep  and  still  unfathomed  chasm  discharges  its 
waters  through  the  Rio  San  Antonio  at  the  northern  foot  of  the  mountain,  appears 
to  be  an  old  crater  filled  by  sulphurous  springs.  Situated  on  the  very  edge  of 
the  Mexican  uplands  and  ravined  at  its  base  by  enormous  barrancas  leading  down 
to  the  plain,  Colima  occupies  the  centre  of  a  vast  horizon  embracing  lofty  summits, 
plains,  and  the  distant  ocean.  Eastwards  the  view  reaches  as  far  as  the  glittering 
peak  of  snowy  Popocatepetl.  Under  the  same  latitude  as  the  twin  crests  of  Colima 
stands  the  wooded  Tancitaro  volcano  (12,100  foot)  ;  but  it  lies  much  nearer  to  the 
main  range,  of  which  it  is  merely  a  southern  offshoot.  Tancitaro,  which  commands 
a  distant  view  of  the  Pacific,  is  connected  with  the  Cerro  Patamban  (12,400  feet) 
by  the  long  jagged  ridge  of  the  Cerro  Periban. 

Farther  east  the  almost  isolated  JoruUo  (Joruyo)  volcano  rises  to  a  height  of 


4,330  feet  iu  the  midst  of  a  iiia/j)ais,  ov  jjcd regal,  a  stony  tract  of  lavas  enclosed  on 
the  south  by  the  Eio  Jlexcala.  Since  the  description  given  bj'  Humboldt,  this  is 
one  of  the  Mexican  volcanoes  of  which  most  frequent  mention  is  made.  JoruUo 
is  commonly  supposed  to  have  made  its  aj^pearance  one  night  towards  the  end  of  the 
year  1759  in  the  middle  of  cultivated  plains,  beneath  which  long  rumbling  sounds 
had  been  heard  for  months  before  the  upheaval.  Tradition  relates  that  the  Cutza- 
randiro  cones,  50  miles  to  the  east,  had  been  in  a  disturbed  state  some  years  before 
the  appearance  of  Jondlo.  Hence  the  theory  that  the  underground  forces  opened 
for  themselves  another  vent  by  creating  the  new  volcano,  and  since  that  time  the 
former  craters  would  seem  to  have  been  completely  closed. 

This  legend,  although  supported  by  the  immense  authority  of  Humboldt's 
name,  is  confirmed  by  no  trustworthy  documents,  and  is,  moreover,  at  variance 
with  the  facts  since  that  time  observed  in  every  part  of  the  world.  One  day  nothing 
was  visible  except  a  plain  covered  with  sugar-cane  and  indigo  plantations  waving 
in  the  breeze ;  next  morning  six  large  cones  over  1,650 — according  to  Burkart, 
1,230 — feet  high,  presented  themselves  to  the  astonished  gaze  of  thepeasantrj'-,who 
had  takeB  refuge  on  the  surrounding  hills.  The  whole  district  was  reported  to 
have  become,  so  to  say,  "  embossed,"  and  raised  by  the  molten  matter,  while  the 
semi-liquid  rocks,  pierced  in  the  centre  by  a  funnel,  were  upheaved  above  their 
former  level  to  form  the  cone  which  is  now  visible. 

Such  an  hypothesis  of  a  vertical  thrust  of  the  primitive  soil  is  no  less  absurd 
than  another  local  statement  regarding  the  vengeance  of  certain  Capuchin  friars, 
who  had  not  been  entertained  with  sufficient  honour  by  the  proprietors  of  the 
hacienda,  and  who  on  their  departure  consigned  the  whole  district  to  the  de- 
vouring flames.  The  formation  of  Jorullo,  like  that  of  all  other  volcanoes,  must 
in  fact  be  attributed  to  the  ashes  and  lavas  accumulating  with  each  successive 

Since  1860  Jorullo  has  been  quiescent,  or,  at  least,  subject  only  to  slight  dis- 
turbances. From  the  crater,  a  yawning  chasm  over  a  mile  in  circuit  and  650  feet 
deep,  nothing  is  now  emitted  except  Light  vapours,  which  are  mostl}'  invisible, 
condensing  into  fog  or  mist  only  before  rainy  weather.  The  slopes  of  the  mountain 
have  been  partly  overgrown  with  forests,  in  which  trees  of  the  tropical  are  inter- 
mingled with  plants  of  the  temperate  zone.  Even  the  hoi-nitos,  or  "  little 
furnaces,"  innumerable  cones  a  few  yards  high,  dotted  round  the  base,  have  also 
for  the  most  part  ceased  to  discharge  jets  of  vapour.  At  the  time  of  Humboldt, 
the  temperature  of  these  vapours  was  205°  F. ;  since  then  it  has  gradually  fallen 
to  from  120°  to  140°  F.,  within  which  limits  it  oscillates  at  present.  The  waters 
have  also  cooled  down  in  the  Eio  San  Pedro  and  in  another  rivulet,  which  was 
evaporated  or  covered  by  a  bed  of  lava  during  the  eruption,  but  which  reappeared 
in  hot  springs  several  miles  from  the  volcano. 

All  these  volcanoes,  Colima,  Tancitaro,  Jorullo,  and  the  extinct  Tasco,  far  to 
the  east,  but  still  north  of  the  Rio  Mexcala,  are  disposed  in  a  line  parallel  with  the 
axis  of  the  Sierra  Madre,  which  runs  at  a  mean  distance  of  about  36  miles  north- 
wards.    But  this  great  range  is  itself  composed  almost  exclusively  of  old  or  recent 



eruptive  rocks,  between  whose  foldings  are  enclosed  lacustrine  basins  wluch  are 
still  flooded,  and  in  which  quaternary  alluvia  have  been  deposited. 

San  Andres  or  Tajimaroa,  a  group  of  volcanoes  lying  east  of  Morelia,  still 
presents  on  one  of  its  summits  a  funnel  filled  with  boiling  water,  and  emitting 
copious  sulphurous  vapours.      These  vapours  change  to  sulphates  the  argillaceous 

rig.  11.— JOP.ULIO,   ACOOEDINa  TO  HuMBOLDT. 
Scale  1 :  180,000. 





M^^i^r:  y\Mf^S&^^ 


'  i^^^'.. 


•  West  oF   GreenwIcVi 


3  Miles. 

clays  of  the  surrounding  district,  and  thus  are  periodically  undermined  the  huts  of 
the  workmen  occupied  in  collecting  the  mud  richly  charged  with  sulphur. 

The  Cerro  de  las  Humaredas,  another  trachytic  cone,  owes  its  name  to  its 
abundant  f umaroles.  Near  it  springs  a  geyser  from  the  very  summit  of  a  siliceous 
cone  gradually  deposited  by  the  jets  of  boiling  water.  One  of  the  craters,  over 
13,200  feet  high,  takes  the  name  of  Chillador,  or  "  Whistler,"  from  the  hissing 
sound  of  the  vapours  escaping  from  its  mouth.  In  1872  a  series  of  violent  earth- 
quakes was  followed  by  the  appearance  of  a  new  ChUlador  by  the  side  of  the  other. 

-.i  f 


.11 1     I     J      I     mill  mil       I  imiii  an    i  iii  i 


scaled.  The  ascent  is  in  fact  relatively  easy,  thanks  to  the  regularity  of  the  slope, 
although  the  porphyritic  mass  of  Popocatepetl  exceeds  Mont  Blanc  by  about  1,900 
feet.  The  mean  of  eleven  measurements  yields  17,830  feet,  oi',  according  to  Ponce 
de  Leon,  17,780  for  the  Mexican  giant,  which  is  consequently  at  least  820  feet 
lower  than  its  North- American  rival.  Mount  St.  Elias. 

On  the  east  slope  the  lower  limit  of  the  permanent  snows  is  at  14,250  feet. 
Here  all  the  rugosities  of  the  surface  are  filled  with  snow,  which  round  the  rim  of 
the  crater  is  transformed  to  a  crj'stalline  mass  8  or  10  feet  thick  ;  thus  are  deve- 
loped a  few  small  glaciers  fissured  by  little  crevasses.  About  the  east  foot  of  the 
mountain  are  met  a  large  number  of  scattered  boulders,  which  should  with  great 
probability  be  attributed  to  the  action  of  much  larger  glaciers,  which  formerly 
descended  from  the  summits. 

Above  the  crater  rise  two  chief  summits,  the  Pico  Mayor  and  the  Espinazo 
del  Diablo,  which  rest  on  a  sharp  ridge  where  the  explorer  has  to  maintain  his 
equilibrium  between  two  profound  chasms.  On  one  side  the  view  stretches  east- 
wards to  the  hot  lands  dominated  by  the  plateaux  ;  on  the  other  yawns  the  crater, 
a  cavity  over  half  a  mile  in  circumference,  and  250  feet  deep. 

This  cavity  is  filled  with  snow  ;  but  jets  of  gas,  which  frequently  shift  their 
place,  melt  the  white  mass  round  about  the  respimdero,  that  is,  the  orifice  of  the 
crater.  Thus  are  revealed  from  a  distance  those  patches  of  a  yellow  gold  colour, 
which  indicate  the  position  of  the  sulphur  deposits.  The  vokaneros,  who  almost 
daily  come  in  search  of  the  sulphur,  are  let  down  to  the  bottom  of  the  crater  in  a 
large  basket,  which  is  lowered  and  raised  by  means  of  a  windlass  erected  on  the 
brim  of  the  chasm.  The  annual  yield  is  estimated  at  about  fifty  tons,  and  the 
mineral  is  supposed  to  accumulate  at  the  rate  of  a  ton  a  day.  A  spring  welling  up 
on  the  bed  of  the  crater  fills  a  lagoon,  whose  waters,  according  to  report,  reappear 
in  thermal  fountains  at  the  base  of  the  mountain.  Eruptions  are  rare,  and  have 
been  less  violent  during  the  present  century  than  at  the  time  of  the  conquest. 

North  of  Popocatepetl  rises  the  less  elevated  but  still  lofty  Ixtaccihuatl,  or 
"  White  Woman  "  (16,300  feet),  which,  however,  is  not  a  volcano,  although  much 
dreaded  by  the  natives,  and  made  the  subject  of  numerous  popular  legends.  The 
mantle  of  perennial  snows  clothing  its  craterloss  porphyritic  cone  is  nowhere 
pierced  by  any  fumeroles.  According  to  the  Aztecs  the  two  mountains  were 
divinities,  Ixtaccihuatl  being  the  wife  of  Popocatepetl,  which  now  serves  as  a 
meteorological  indicator  for  the  populations  dwelling  at  its  base.  When  the  vapours 
are  a  dense  black  colour,  and  roll  away  from  the  crater  in  great  wreaths  in  the  direc- 
tion of  the  north,  rain  may  be  expected.  But  when  the  smoke  sets  southwards  it 
is  a  sign  of  approaching  frosts  and  cold  weather.  If  again  the  column  of  vapour 
assumes  a  vertical  direction,  it  is  regarded  as  a  forecast  of  high  winds,  or  else  of 
earthquakes.  Two  or  three  hours  before  a  thunderstorm  bursts  over  the  plain, 
the  crater  is  seen  to  discharge  at  intervals  quantities  of  ashes  and  pumice. 

The  two  sister  mountains  which  dominate  the  valley  of  Mexico  stand  at  the 
angle  of  the  triangular  bastion  which  is  formed  by  the  central  plateaux  of  Ana- 
huao.     In  the  neighbourhood  of  Tehuacan  the  Western  and  Eastern  Sierra  Madres 


cross  their  axes,  and  from  this  junta,  or  converging  point,  the  two  systems  are 
merged  in  one  as  far  as  the  isthmus  of  Tehuantepec. 

But  if  the  "Western  Sierra  Madre  seems  to  be  abruptly  terminated  at  a  short 
distance  to  the  east  of  Mexico  by  a  rampart  of  mountains  belonging  to  another 
system  of  crests,  the  Tolcanic  zone  is  continued  far  beyond  Popocatepetl  by  the 
eruptive  character  of  the  prevailing  formations.  MaUntzin  or  ilalinche,  the 
Matlalcueyatl  of  the  ancient  Aztecs^  which  is  called  also  Dona  ilarina  in  honour 
of  Cortes'  young  Indian  interpretress,  rises  in  isolated  majesty  to  a  height  of 
13,550  feet  in  the  middle  of  the  Tlaxcala  plateau.  According  to  the  local  legend 
MaKntzin  was  the  daughter  of  Popocatepetl  and  Ixtaccihuatl,  and  had  wandered 
far  and  wide  before  finding  a  favourable  resting  place. 

Other  large  eruptive  cones  stand  on  the  verge  of  the  uplands,  on  the  border 
i-ange  belonging  to  the  Eastern  Sierra  Madre.  In  this  range  the  two  loftiest  sum- 
mits are  the  volcanoes  of  Cofre  de  Perote  and  Orizaba,  both  of  which  are  visible 
from  the  sea.  The  Cofre  owes  its  name  of  "  coffer  "  to  the  quadrilateral  form  of 
its  summit  (13,500  feet),  which  is  often  wrapped  in  aerial  shrouds,  looking  like  a 
vast  sarcophagus  raised  aloft.  The  Cofre,  which  was  the  Xauhcampa-tepetl  or 
"  Four-ridged  Mountain  "  of  the  Aztecs,  is  surrounded  by  a  malpak  of  lavas,  on 
the  west  side  of  which  lies  the  famous  Chinacamote  cavern.  This  natural  curiosity, 
said  by  the  natives  to  be  six  or  seven  leagues  long,  is  of  difficult  access,  owing  to 
the  huge  blocks  that  have  fallen  from  the  roof. 

Parasitic  craters,  which  are  now  extinct,  open  on  the  flanks  of  the  Cofre,  and 
from  its  base  long  lava  streams  descend  seawards.  Even  beyond  the  tertiary  and 
quaternary  deposits  which  overlie  the  older  formations  of  the  seaboard,  a  chain  of 
reefs,  derived  from  ancient  eruptions,  and  known  as  the  Boquilla  de  Piedras,  is 
disposed  in  a  line  with  the  shore.  Macuiltepec,  or  the  "Five  Moimtains,"  on  the 
slopes  of  which  stands  the  town  of  Jalapa,  is  also  an  extinct  crater  now  filled  with 

Orizaba,  which  overlooks  the  city  of  the  same  name  some  30  miles  south  of 
the  Cofre,  exceeds  Popocatepetl  in  altitude.  According  to  the  lowest  estimates 
it  is  at  least  17,500  feet  high ;  some  observers  raise  it  to  17,860,  while  Perez  gives 
it  an  elevation  of  18,400  feet,  or  about  50  more  than  Humboldt's  calculation. 

Orizaba's  Aztec  name  of  Citlal-tepetl,  or  "  Star  Mountain,"  may  perhaps  be 
due  to  the  fact  that  the  summit  of  its  cone  is  seen  glittering  amid  the  stars,  unless 
it  refers  to  the  burning  lavas  formerly  discharged  from  its  crater.  Xo  mountain 
presents  a  more  imposing  appearance  in  the  perfect  symmetry  of  its  outlines,  and 
the  beautv  of  its  snowr  crest  towerinty  above  the  verdant  belt  of  its  forests  and  the 
ever-shifting  clouds  of  the  lower  atmospheric  strata. 

The  lower  slopes  are  easily  ascended,  but  the  topmost  cone  presents  great 
difficulties,  so  that  but  few  travellers  have  succeeded  in  hewing  a  flight  of  steps 
in  the  higher  snows,  and  thus  reaching  the  ashes  and  scoriae  of  the  great  crater. 
This  culminating  point  was  first  reached  in  1848  by  Eaynolds  and  Maynard,  who 
were  serving  in  the  American  invading  army.  Three  years  afterwards  Doignon 
followed  in  their  footsteps,  and  to  him  we  owe  the  first  description  of  the  crest,  with 



its  three  craters  and  intervening  walls.     The  central  oval-shaped  cavity  is  over  a 
quarter  of  a  mile  in  circuit  and  from  120  feet  to  130  feet  deep. 

The  last  great  eruption  of  Orizaha  appears  to  have  taken  place  towards  the 
middle  of  the  sixteenth  century.  About  the  middle  of  the  present  century  vapours 
and  sulphurous  jets  were  still  ejected  from  the  crumbling  rocks,  which  were 
peeling  away  like  the  plaster- work  of  some  old  ruia  ;  but  these  almost  transparent 
vapours  wore  seldom  visible  from  the  lower  regions.  Yet  an  inner  wall  could  be 
seen,  disposed  obliquely  in  such  a  way  that  its  slope  was  confused  with  that  of  the 
mountain  itself.  In  1878  the  igneous  forces  were  entirely  extinguished,  and  the 
crater  is  now  usually  filled  with  snow,  which  is  regularly  collected  as  on  Popocatepetl. 

Fig.  12. — Oeizaba  Peak. 

Scale  1  :  500,000. 

Rancho  JdTiiipa 



Parasitic  cones  arc  dotted  over  the  slopes  of  Orizaba,  as  well  as  on  the  surround- 
ing plains.  These  cones,  from  400  to  500  feet  high,  resemble  huge  barrows,  and 
in  fact  are  said  by  the  natives  to  be  funeral  mounds  erected  over  the  remains  of 
ancient  kings.  All  must  have  long  been  extinct,  for  they  are  now  clothed  with 
forest  growths,  and  the  craters  themselves  have  become  filled  with  a  dense  vegeta- 
tion. Nevertheless  a  still  active  crater  Ues  in  the  Derrumbaderos  group  (10,300 
feet)  on  the  crest  of  a  volcanic  cone  north-west  of  Tepetitlan. 

Orizaba  is  not  the  terminal  cone  in  the  Mexican  igneous  zone  ;  bevoud  it  an 
isolated  volcano,  Tuxtla,  4,950  feet  high,  stands  on  the  seashore  near  the  extreme 
curve  formed  by  the  Gulf  of  Mexico  between  the  mainland  proper  and  the  Yucatan 
peninsula.  Tuxtla  lies  135  miles  in  a  straight  line  from  Orizaba,  and  it  is  separated 
from  the  Sierra  Madre  system  by  extensive  tracts  of  alluvial  soil  watered  by  several 
streams.     In  lG64it  discharged  some  molten  lavas,  and  was  then  quiescent  till  the 


tremendous  outburst  of  1793,  when  tlie  ejected  scoria)  were  said  to  lie  wafted  in  one 
direction  as  far  as  Vera- Cruz  and  Perote,  in  another  all  the  way  to  Oaxaca.  The 
disturbances  have  been  renewed  in  recent  times. 

According  to  the  imanimous  testimony  of  the  natives  the  two  volcanoes  of  Orizaba 
and  Tuxtla  "  hold  converse  together  "  by  means  of  mufSed  rumblings  like  the  sound 
of  distant  thunder.  The  headlands  of  lava  projected  seawards  by  Tuxtla  form  the 
eastern  extremity  of  the  winding  volcanic  zone,  whose  central  axis,  about  730  miles 
long,  coincides  very  nearly  with  the  19th  parallel  of  latitude,  and  is  continued  far 
into  the  Pacific  westwards  to  the  Hawaii  Archipelago.  The  uninhabited  Revilla- 
Gigedo  islands,  which  lie  on  the  track  of  this  conjectural  volcanic  fault,  are 
probably  of  igneous  origin ;  Poulett  Scrope  mentions  the  fact  that  vessels  navigating 
those  waters  frequently  find  the  surface  covered  with  floating  pumice. 

The  region  of  the  Mexican  volcanoes  also  coincides  with  the  principal  zone 
of  earthquakes,  whose  undulations  are  usually  propagated  in  the  direction  from 
east  to  west  in  a  line  w  ith  that  of  the  burning  mountains.  The  province  of  Jalisco 
especially  is  much  exposed  to  these  seismic  movements.  Buildings  erected  on 
granite  or  porphj'ry  rocks  suffer  more  than  others  from  such  disturbances. 

The  Eastern  Sierra  Madre,  whose  culminating  peaks  are  the  Cofre  and  Citlal- 
tepetl, forms,  like  the  western  system,  a  southern  continuation  of  highlands  lying 
within  the  United  States  frontier.  The  parallel  ridges  of  the  Apache  Mountains, 
which  arc  disposed  in  the  direction  from  south-west  to  north-east,  and  which  arc 
pierced  by  the  gorges  of  the  Pio  Bravo,  rcapj^ear  on  the  right  or  Mexican  side  of 
that  river.  Here  they  develop  a  long  lino  of  Jurassic  limestone  ramparts  running 
south-eastwards  and  presenting  precipitous  slopes  whose  sharp  crests  are  here  and 
there  pierced  by  a  few  eruptive  cones. 

These  crests  do  not  exceed  an  average  altitude  of  about  3,500  feet ;  but  like 
the  western  range  they  rise  gradually  southwards,  and  in  the  neighbourhood  of 
Saltillo  some  of  the  summits  already  attain  an  elevation  of  G,600  feet.  In  these 
regions  of  north  Mexico  the  two  converging  eastern  and  western  sierras  are  not 
yet  connected  by  any  transverse  ridges,  but  are,  on  the  contrary,  separated  by  vast 
plains  and  by  basins  of  quaternary  alluvial  matter  which  were  formerly  deposited 
by  extensive  inland  seas,  and  which  under  the  action  of  the  winds  have  since 
assumed  the  form  of  elevated  dunes.  Here  they  take  the  name  of  llanos,  like  the 
grassy  savannahs  of  Yenezuela ;  but  in  Mexico  these  old  lacustrine  beds  have  a 
different  A'ogctation,  and  thej'-  arc  moreover  divided  into  distinct  depressions  hj 
small  ridges  of  volcanic  or  other  hills  rising  above  the  plains.  These  ridges  are 
for  the  most  part  disposed  in  the  direction  from  north-west  to  south-east,  parallel 
with  the  two  great  border  ranges,  and  thus  form  narrow  gulches,  ravines  or  canons, 
which  are  traversed  by  rivulets  and  highways. 

One  of  these  steppes  is  the  Llano  de  los  Cristianos,  which  occupies  some  thousand 
square  miles  south  of  the  Pio  del  Iforte  and  its  affluent,  the  Rio  Conchos,  and  which 
is  divided  into  a  multitude  of  secondary  plains  by  numerous  sierras  and  chains  of 
Kills.  Farther  south  the  Llano  de  los  Gigantes,  so  called  from  the  remains  of 
gigantic  animals  found  in  the  clays  and  sands  formerly  supposed  to  be  those  of 



ancient  giants,  is  far  more  level,  its  uniform  surface  being  broken  only  by  a  few 
knolls  of  low  elevation.  South-eastwards  it  develops  into  the  Bolson  or  "Purse" 
of  Mapimi,  a  vast  sandy  and  saHne  basin,  for  the  most  part  desert,  about  40,000 
square  miles  in  extent.     The  Bolson  do  Mapimi  is  the  Sahara  of  Mexico. 

South  of  this  depression  the  ground  rises,  and  the  two  border  ranges  are  here 
connected  by  intermediate  highlands  and  the  crests  of  a  mountainous  plateau. 
South-east  of  Saltillo  a  first  group  of  summits  attains  a  height  of  8,450  feet ; 
farther  south  a  peak  in  the  mining  district  of  Catorce  exceeds  9,000  feet;  the  crest 
of  the  Veta  Grande  in  Zacatecas  maintains  an  altitude  of  9,200  feet ;  the  Cerro  de 
la  Cruz,  near  Aguascalientes,  is  said  to  be  exactly  10,000  feet  high  ;  the  Gigante, 
or  "  Giant,"  near  Guanajuato,  exceeds  it  by  850  feet,  while  a  neighbouring  summit, 

Fig.  13. — Volcanoes  of  Mexico. 

Scale  1  :  11,000,000. 

West  op  bnernwich 

ISO  Miles. 

despite  its  name  of  Llanitos  or  "  Little  Plains,"  approaches  11,500  feet.  Lastly,  all 
the  northern  part  of  the  states  of  Queretaro  and  Hidalgo  is  occupied  by  a  chaos  of 
peaks  and  cones,  some  of  which  are  distinguished  by  their  fantastic  outlines.  Such 
is  the  Mamanchota  (about  10,000  feet),  the  "  Organos  "  of  Actopan,  so  named 
from  its  porphyrj'  towers  disposed  like  the  gigantic  pipes  of  an  organ. 

Owing  to  the  sporadic  disposition  of  the  mountain  masses  scattered  over  the 
plateau,  they  may  almost  everywhere  be  easily  turned  without  having  to  be  crossed. 
It  was  thus  that  the  migrating  tribes  and  conquering  hordes  were  able  to  advance 
southwards  by  following  the  natural  routes  winding  round  Malinche  and  Popoca- 
tepetl, and  meandering  amid  the  heights  of  Hidalgo,  Queretaro,  and  Guanajuato. 

On  the  other  hand  the  escarpments  of  the  plateau  are  in  many  places  extremely 
difficult  to  scale,  and  especially  to  turn  horizontally,  owing  to  the  deep  barrancas 
excavated  in  parallel  lines  along  the  slopes  of  the  hills.  In  the  districts  where 
pumice  and  light  scoriaj  are  the  prevailing  formations,  the  running  waters  have 



scooped  out  enormous  gorges  hundreds  of  yards  deep,  which  converge  in  still  larger 
ravines  before  reaching  the  level  of  the  plains.  The  best  known  of  these  barrancas 
arc  those  of  the  sierras  of  Tepic,  of  the  Colima  and  Orizaba  volcanoes  and  neigh- 
bouring highlands.  Sometimes  a  whole  day  is  required  to  reach  a  village  which 
may  be  seen  perched  on  a  terrace  only  a  few  miles  distant ;  but  in  the  inter, 
vening  space  the  traveller  has  perhaps  to  cross  four  or  five  deep  troughs,  whose 
crumbling  slopes  are  scored  by  dangerous  zigzag  tracks.  In  some  of  the  older 
barrancas  the  slopes  are  entirely  concealed  by  a  dense  vegetation. 

But  while  nature  is  destroying  in  one  place  it  is  building  up  in  another. 
The  plateaux,  the  isolated  mountains,  and  even  the  volcanoes  of  comparatively 

Tig-  U.— iGNEOtra  Reoions  axd  Volcakoes  of  Mexico. 
Scale  1 :  12,000,000. 

Active  Volcanoes.             Eruptive  Rocks.             Sedimentary  Rocks.  Extinct  Volcanoes. 
The  blank  spaces  have  not  yet  been  thoroughly  surveyei 
—  ISO  Miles. 

recent  geological  date,  as  well  as  the  flanks  of  giants  such  as  Popocatepetl,  are 
found  to  be  covered  with  an  argillaceous  or  marly  layer  to  an  average  depth  of  from 
15  to  30  feet.  These  layers  are  composed  entirely  of  dust  brought  by  the  remolinos 
depolvo,  little  whirlwinds  rising  at  intervals  on  the  plateaux,  "like  movable 
minarets,  disappearing  and  reappearing  incessantly."  But  this  dust  itself,  which 
now  completely  clothes  the  hill-sides,  can  come  only  from  other  formations  of 
recent  origin,  from  the  so-called  tcpcMc,  a  clay  detached  by  the  rains  from  the 
rocks,  and  elsewhere  deposited  in  the  form  of  fine  alluvial  matter. 

South  of  the  uplands,  lying  between  the  two  border  ranges,  the  surface  of  the 
plateaux  is  occupied  by  a  series  of  plains,  the  beds  of  old  lakes,  or  inland  seas. 
One  of  these  is  the  Bajio,  a  long  sinuous  depression  which  winds  for  about  125 

VOL.  xvir.  D 



miles  along  the  base  of  the  Guanajuato  Mountains,  and  which  is  covered  with  a 
friable  black  clay,  resulting  from  the  disintegration  of  the  basalt  rocks. 

In  these  regions,  comprised  in  the  triangular  space  which  is  enclosed  by  the 
two  converging  sierras,  the  mean  elevation  of  the  pedestal  exceeds  6,600  feet,  and 
here  nearly  all  the  towns  stand  at  this  altitude  above  the  sea.  Morelia,  situated 
in  a  low  valley  at  the  northern  foot  of  the  volcanic  range,  lies  only  about  200  feet 
lower.  Toluca  is  8,500  feet,  the  neighbouring  village  of  Tlaluepantla  9,180  above 
the  sea-level,  and  Mineral  del  Monte,  in  the  province  of  Hidalgo,  6-5  feet  lower. 
Lastly,  the    farmstead  of  Tlamecas,  which  is  inhabited  throughout  the  year,  lies 

Fig.  15. — CONTEEGENCE   OF  THE  TWO   SlEEllA  MadEES. 
.<5cale  I  :  430n,000. 

"'y^^^f?^  J\^a7«^^,,,(/^>^   r/ 

C^  ^^£ 


^',  -y' 


,  120  Miles. 

on  the  flanks  of  Popocatepetl  at  an  altitude  of  12,560  feet,  an  altitude  at  which 
the  natives  of  the  lower  regions  sometimes  find  it  difficult  to  live. 

The  uplands,  which  form  a  south-eastern  extension  of  the  Anahuac  plateau, 
present  no  kind  of  symmetry  in  their  general  design.  They  may  be  regarded  as 
the  remains  of  an  ancient  plateau  carved  into  irregular  masses  by  the  running 
waters.  These  waters  have  eroded  the  rocks  on  both  slopes,  leaving  erect  the 
harder  masses,  which  form  irregular  ridges  disposed  in  various  directions,  some 
parallel  with,  others  transverse  to  the  border  ranges.  By  the  old  Aztecs,  these 
highlands  were  called  Mixtlan,  or  "  Cloud  Land,"  and  the  Spaniards  still  call 
them  Mixteca  Alia,  that  is,  L^plands  of  the  Mixtecs,  or  "  Cloud-dwellers." 

North  of  Oaxaca,  the  Cerro  San  Felipe  del  Agua,  which  may  be  regarded  as 



belonging  to  the  central  axis  of  the  mountain  region,  attains  a  height  of  10,300 
feet ;  but  the  culminating  point  is  the  Zampoal-tejwtl,  which  lies  on  a  secondary 
branch,  and  which,  according  to  Garcia  Cubas,  exceeds  11,200  feet.  From  its 
summit  a  view  is  commanded  both  of  the  Pacific  and  the  Gulf  of  Mexico. 

South  of  these  irregular  uplands,  which  form  the  fractured  stem  of  the  central 
chain,  the  Sierra  del  Sur,  a  more  continuous  and  better-defined  range,  stretches 
south-eastwards  along  the  Pacific  coast.  This  range,  whicb  is  also  sometimes  called  a 
Sierra  Madre,  is  said  to  roach  an  altitude  of  9,200  feet  in  the  Cimaltepec  district, 

Fig.   IC. — VaKIOUS  AlTITUBES  of  the  MEXICiX  MoTWTACfS   iNTJ   ToWTTS. 






Popoc^t^p^     -p^Ori^^b^ 


ti.  cmpba/Iephs 


Cumhre                                  ^ 


CHihu3^lua                Zacalecos 

Fresnillo.                        •      .Apam 
Gwanajuato,                'PuebU 
OJrVngo'  "  ■  Moreira"«                      '                                       S.C.-1sl5bar  ■ 

.      SanLu.s"  "Oueretapo 

Aguascalientes  .TeJ,uacsn 

P        I    I    -        •                                         .Oaxaca 

■^                                 Jalapa. 

•Santa-Crui                                      ■                      -Oo^aba 


Collma*                        Monterey                       .S.  Andres  Tu«tla 
Vera-Cruz.                         Merlda. 

no-                                          West     oF    Greer^wlcV.                                      -SO* 

south  of  Oaxaca.  Near  Juquila,  on  the  sea-coast,  stands  an  isolated  headland,  tlic 
extinct  Chacahua  volcano,  Mhose  crater  is  now  filled  with  sulphur.  Another 
cone,  one  of  the  ten  still  active  volcanoes  in  Mexico,  lies  farther  east  near  Pochutla. 
Before  1870,  when  it  suddenly  ejected  scorioc  and  vapours,  it  was  supposed  to 
be  extinct,  all  memory  of  any  previous  explosions  having  died  out. 

In  the  isthmus  of  Tehuantepec  the  Mexican  ranges  are  continued  on  the 
Pacific  side  by  a  series  of  uplands  which  are  crossed  by  six  passes  at  a  low  eleva- 
tion.    The  lowest,  which  takes  the  name  of  Portillo  de  Tarifa  from  a  neighbouring 


village,  IS  only  1,000  feet  high.  Most  of  tlio  high  grovmcls  skirting  the  plains  of 
the  isthmus  aifect  the  form  of  "  tables  "  ;  seen  from  the  surrounding  mountains, 
they  merge  almost  entirely  with  the  lowlands. 

According  to  Spear,  a  geologist  attached  to  one  of  the  numerous  expeditions 
that  have  studied  the  isthmus  of  Tehuantepec,  the  terraced  formations  consist 
partly  of  cretaceous  rocks  deposited  at  a  time  when  the  Atlantic  and  Pacific 
Oceans  were  here  connected  by  a  broad  channel.  After  their  upheaval  the 
flanks  of  these  chalk  cliffs  became  overlaid  on  both  sides  by  more  recent  tertiary 
and  quaternary  formations.  The  land  still  continues  to  encroach  insensibly  on 
the  ocean ;  the  Pacific  Coast,  formed  of  late  alluvial  matter,  is  continually 
advancing  seawards,  while  the  lagoons  along  the  shore  are  gradually  drying  up. 
In  the  isthmus  of  Tehuantepec  low-lying  tracts  occupy  a  larger  space  relatively  to 
the  whole  region  than  in  any  other  part  of  Mexico. 

The  two  oceans  were  also  at  one  time  connected  farther  north  by  another 
marine  passage,  and  the  so-called  "  Valley  "  of  Mexico  in  the  very  centre  of  the 
Anahuac  tableland  is  a  remnant  of  this  old  branch  of  the  sea.  Towards  the  close 
of  Mesozoic  times  the  marine  waters  winded  over  these  lands  which  at  present 
stand  over  6,500  feet  above  sea-level,  and  the  volcanoes  now  surmounting  them 
had  not  yet  discharged  their  lava  streams.  At  this  epoch  the  contour  line  of  the 
Gulf  of  Mexico  also  lay  far  more  to  the  west  than  in  our  days.  The  rich  silver 
mines  are  nearly  all  situated  in  the  two  Sierra  Madres  north  of  the  "  Valley," 
and  are  disposed  along  certain  definite  lines.  Thus  their  main  axis  appears  to  run 
due  north-west  and  south-east  between  Batopilas  and  Guanajuato,  and  the  famous 
argentiferous  lodes  of  Zacatecas,  Fresnillo,  Sombrcrete,  and  Durango  all  lie  on  or 
near  this  axis ;  the  lodes  themselves  are  disposed  in  the  same  direction. 

Rivers  and  Lakes. 

The  form  of  the  Mexican  plateau  with  its  narrow  escarpments,  and  its  border 
ranges  disposed  parallel  with  the  seaboards,  combined  with  the  dry  climate  of  the 
northern  and  central  regions,  has  prevented  the  development  of  any  large  fluvial 
systems  with  extensive  ramifying  arteries.  Of  all  Mexican  rivers  the  most  impor- 
tant, if  not  for  its  volume  at  least  for  its  length  and  for  the  part  that  it  plaj's  as 
the  political  frontier-line  between  the  Anglo-Saxon  and  Hispano- American  repub- 
lics for  over  720  miles  of  its  course,  is  the  Rio  Bravo,  or  Rio  Grande  del  Norte.  The 
Mexican  part  of  its  basin  comprises  about  94,000  square  miles,  or  one-third  of  the 
whole  area  of  its  drainage  ;  but  it  receives  scarcely  any  copious  or  perennial  streams. 
Most  of  their  beds  are  dry  except  during  the  rainy  season,  and  their  waters,  ren- 
dered saline  by  lodging  in  shallow  basins,  give  a  brackish  taste  to  the  Bravo  itself. 

The  largest  affluent  on  the  Mexican  side  is  the  Rio  Conchos,  whose  headstreams 
are  fed  for  a  distance  of  over  200  miles  north  and  south  by  the  eastern  slopes  of 
the  great  Sierra  Madre  between  the  States  of  Sonora  and  Chihuahua.  From  the 
Eastern  Sierra  Madre  flows  the  Rio  Salado,  or  "  Salt  River,"  whose  very  name 
indicates  a  prolonged  period  of  drought.     In  the  same  range  rises  the  Rio  San 



Fig.  IT. — Tajiaulipas  Coast  Lagoons. 
Scale  1  : 2,500,000. 

Juan,  -nliicli  is  formed  of  the  numerous  sparkling  streams  that  water  the  more 
fertUe  districts  of  Coahuila  and  Nuevo-Leon.  One  of  these  streams  towards  the 
southern  extremity  of  the  basin  is  the  Puente  de  Dios,  which  plunges  from  a 
height  of  200  feet  into  a  profound  chasm  70  or  80  feet  below  one  of  those  natural 
causeways  which  are  here  called  "  God's 

The  alluvial  matter  brought  down  by 
the  Eio  Bravo  has  caused  the  land  to 
encroach  far  beyond  the  normal  coastline  ; 
but  it  has  failed  to  fill  up  the  coast 
lagoons,  so  that  here  is  de^'eloped  a 
double  shoreline ;  the  sandy  strips,  and 
the  seaboard  proper.  Elongated  back- 
waters, which  continue  those  fringing  the 
coast  of  Texas  roimd  the  north-western 
shores  of  the  Gulf  of  Mexico,  are  disposed 
parallel  with  the  sea  in  a  continuous 
chain,  broken  only  by  the  alluvial  banks 
which  have  been  deposited  bj'  coast 
streams  along:  both  sides  of  their  chan- 


These  inner  waters,  which  have  a 
total  length  of  about  200  miles,  commu- 
nicate with  the  open  sea  only  by  narrow 
passages,  which  shift  their  position  with 
the  storms  and  rains.  The  water  also 
varies  in  its  saline  contents  according 
to  the  freshets  of  the  coast  streams  and 
the  irruptions  of  the  sea.  The  lagoons 
are  gradually  silting  up  with  the  sediment 
deposited  by  the  two  little  coast  streams, 
the  San  Fernando  or  Tigre,  and  La  Ma- 
rina, the  old  E,io  de  las  Palmas. 

South  of  La  Marina  and  of  a  few  other 
rivulets,  the Tamesi  and  the  Pauuco,  which 
formerly  flowed  in  separate  channels,  are  ^ 
now  united  in  a  district  studded  with 
lagoons  and  swamps  above  the  bar  of 
Tampico  ;    hence  the  name  of   Tampico 

sometimes  given  to  the  two  united  rivers.  The  Panuco,  the  more  copious  of  the 
two,  rises  north  of  the  Mexican  Valley,  and  even  receives  some  contributions 
through  the  Huehuetoca  cutting;  under  the  names  of  Tula  or  Montezuma  it 
describes  a  vast  semicircular  bend  towards  the  west  across  the  Hidalgo  uplands, 
beyond  which  it  collects  the  various  streams  flowing  from   Queretaro.     One  of 

§         ^ 


Oto  10 

10  to  23 

23  to  50 

50  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

.  30  Jliles. 



these  disappears  near  JaliDan  in  profound  caverns  about  2  miles  long,  wliich 
like  the  arch  at  Nuevo-Leon  also  bears  the  name  of  Puente  de  Dios.  In  these 
subterranean  galleries  human  bodies  have  been  found  covered  with  stalactites. 

Another  of  these  tributaries  forms  the  famous  Falls  of  Regla,  where  the  water 
rushes  over  a  breach  opened  in  a  cluster  of  basalt  columns.     On  both  sides  the 

rig.  18. — COATZACOALCOS  BaIS. 
Scale  1  :  60,000. 

94° 25-  West  op  Gree  h 

94°  P5' 





16  to  32 

32  Feet  .ind 

_  2,200 YaiJs. 

columns  are  festooned  with  wreaths  of  lianas,  ■nhile  the  white  waters  are  broken 
into  cascades,  between  which  rise  the  hexagonal  groups  of  bluish  rock. 

The  united  Panuco  and  Tamesi  have  together  almost  completel}'  drained  the 
chains  of  lagoons  formerly  fringing  this  part  of  the  coast ;  but  south  of  the 
Tampico  river  a  small  inland  sea,  the  Laguna  de  Tamiahua,  still  exists,  being 
2)rotectcd  by  a  narrow  cordon  of  sands  from  the  surf.  This  rampart  does  not  take 
the  slightly  concave  form  presented  by  most  of  the  other  sandy  strips  gradually 



formed  by  the  action  of  the  waves  at  the  entrance  of  the  inlets  along  the  coast. 

Fi?.  19. — The  Begll  Falls. 

On  the  contrary  it  projects  some  2o  miles  iu  a  convex  cuive  at  the  Cabo  Eoso,  or 


"  Red  Cape,"  a  form  evidently  due  to  the  presence  of  a  group  of  rocks  or  reefs 
which  has  served  as  a  support  for  the  two  converging  beaches. 

In  many  pLices  the  shore  is  covered  with  dunes,  which  have  been  graduidlv 
raised  above  the  beach,  and  which  drift  inland  under  the  influence  of  the  pvc- 
vailing  trade  winds.  Thus  the  "  Villa  E,ica  de  la  Vera  Cruz,"  founded  by  Cortes, 
near  Zempoala,  is  now  to  a  great  extent  covered  by  dunes  of  shifting  sands. 

The  theory  has  been  advanced  that  these  dunes  may  perhaps  have  been 
raised  since  the  coast  reefs,  which  formerly  stood  some  6  or  7  feet  above  the 
surface,  were  removed  by  the  builders  engaged  on  the  fortress  of  San  Juan  d'Ulua 
and  the  town  walls.  But  this  view  is  at  variance  with  the  fact  that  dunes  even 
higher  than  those  of  Vera  Cruz  have  been  formed  on  many  other  parts  of  the 
coast,  and  especially  near  Alvarado  ;  one  of  the  sandhills  in  the  vicinity  of  Anton 
Lizardo  is  no  less  than  265  feet  high. 

Beyond  this  point  the  Alvarado  estuary,  near  the  southern  inlet  of  the  Gulf  of 
Mexico,  receives  a  large  number  of  converging  streams,  the  largest  of  which  are 
the  Papaloapam,  or  "Butterfly  River,"  and  the  San  Juan.  They  are  both  very 
copious,  thanks  to  the  heavy  rainfall  produced  by  the  trade  winds  on  the  northern 
slopes  of  the  Oaxaca  uplands. 

The  Coatzacoalcos,  or  "  Snake  River,"  which  flows  from  the  opposite  side  of 
the  Tuxtla  volcano,  and  which  had  already  been  discovered  by  Grijalva  before  the 
expedition  of  Cortes,  is  also  an  extremely  copious  stream,  regard  being  had  to  its 
length  of  about  220  miles.  Its  catchment  basin  is  confined  to  the  alluvial  plain 
and  the  amphitheatre  of  low  mountains  which  form  the  northern  slope  of  the  isth- 
mus of  Tehuantepec.  Nevertheless,  its  lower  course  is  no  less  than  800  or  900 
yards  wide  ;  large  vessels  after  once  crossing  the  bar  are  able  to  ascend  as  far  as 
Minatitlan,  some  25  mUes  from  its  mouth,  while  boats  reach  the  village  of  Suchil, 
near  the  middle  of  the  isthmus,  and  over  60  miles  from  the  coast.  But  at  the 
point  where  the  fluvial  and  marine  waters  meet  there  is  formed  a  dangerous  sill, 
which,  since  the  time  of  Cortes'  expedition,  has  always  maintained  a  uniform  dejjth 
of  from  12  to  14  feet  of  water.  Many  vessels  have  been  wrecked  at  the  entrance 
of  the  river,  and  it  is  mainly  owing  to  this  danger  that  engineers  have  abandoned 
the  idea  of  constructing  a  ship  canal  across  the  isthmus  of  Tehuantepec. 

On  the  opposite  side  the  rivers  flowing  to  the  Pacific  are  obstructed  by  similar 
formations.  The  large  lagoon  of  Tilema,  which  lies  just  south  of  the  narrowest 
part  of  the  isthmus,  and  towards  which  converge  numerous  watercourses,  has  only 
from  7  to  10  feet  of  water  on  its  bar,  according  to  the  seasons,  and  it  is  often  inac- 
cessible, even  to  vessels  of  light  draft.  One  of  the  caravals  built  by  Cortes  for  the 
purpose  of  surveying  the  coast  was  wrecked  at  this  point. 

The  mouth  of  the  Rio  Tehuantepec,  which  reaches  the  coast  west  of  the  great 
lagoon,  is  completely  closed  by  sands  for  a  great  part  of  the  year.  Shipping  has 
then  to  ride  at  anchor  either  in  the  open  roadstead  well  named  La  Ventosa,  or 
"Windy,"  or  near  the  dangerous  granite  reefs  of  the  Morro  de  Tehuantepec,  or 
else  far  from  the  alluvial  lands  of  the  isthmus  in  the  Salina  de  Cruz  inlet,  terminus 
of  the  railway,  and  now  sheltered  by  a  breakwater. 


Being  sldrted  by  loftier  ranges  running  nearer  to  the  sea,  the  Pacific  side  of 
Mexico  presents  far  less  extensive  low-lying  coastlands  and  secondary  beaches  than 
the  Atlantic  side.  Nevertheless,  even  here  there  are  a  few  coast  lagoons,  especi- 
ally in  the  district  west  of  Acapulco.  Beyond  it  the  sea  receives  the  waters  of 
the  Eio  Mexcala  or  de  las  Balsas,  one  of  the  chief  Mexican  rivers,  whose  farthest 
sources  lie  on  the  southern  and  some  even  on  the  eastern  slopes  of  the  volcanic 
range.  The  Apoyac,  its  principal  headstream,  which  flows  by  Puebla,  rises  on  the 
flanks  of  Ixtaccihuatl  and  is  fed  higher  up  by  the  snows  melted  by  the  thermal 
springs,  lower  do^'STi  by  several  saline  rivulets. 

The  Eio  de  las  Balsas,  that  is,  "  of  the  rafts,"  as  indicated  by  its  name,  is,  to  a 
limited  extent,  navigable  along  its  lower  reaches ;  above  the  bar  it  is  accessible  to 
small  craft,  which,  higher  up,  are  arrested  by  rapids,  whirlpools,  and  a  high  cas- 
cade. For  a  space  of  220  miles  there  occur  no  less  than  226  obstacles  of  this  sort, 
eddies,  rapids,  or  dangerous  reefs.  The  volume  discharged  through  the  two 
mouths  of  the  Mexcala  is  estimated  at  2,500  cubic  feet  per  second.  The  Rio  Tux- 
pam,  or  de  CoKma,  and  the  Aniecas,  two  less  copious  streams  which  reach  the 
Pacific  farther  north,  have  a  mean  discharge  of  1,100  and  750  cubic  feet  respectively. 

The  Rio  Lerma,  or  Santiago,  the  Tololotlan  of  the  Indians,  is  also  a  considerable 
stream.  By  the  riverain  populations  it  is,  in  fact,  known  as  the  "  Rio  Grande," 
while  the  inhabitants  of  Michoacan  call  it  also  Cuitzeo,  from  the  large  lake  situated 
in  their  province.  It  rises  in  the  State  of  Mexico  in  the  very  centre  of  the  Ana- 
huac  plateau,  and  its  farthest  sources,  issuing  fi'om  undergroimd  galleries,  descend 
from  the  Nevado  de  Toluca  down  to  the  twin  lake  of  Lerma,  the  remains  of  an  in- 
land sea  which  formerly  filled  the  upper  Toluca  valley  north  of  the  Xevado  volcano. 

At  its  issue  from  the  lake,  or  rather  marshy  lagoon,  the  Lerma  stands  at  the 
great  altitude  of  8,600  feet,  and  during  its  winding  north-westerlj-  course  across 
the  plateau,  the  incline  is  very  slight.  In  this  upland  region  it  is  swollen  by 
several  affluents,  some  of  which,  like  the  main  stream  itself,  flow  from  lakes  dotted 
over  the  tableland.  After  completiag  half  of  its  course  at  La  Barca,  the  Lerma  is 
stiU  over  5,600  feet  above  sea-level.  Here,  some  280  miles  from  its  source,  it  enters 
the  large  lake  Chapala,  near  its  eastern  extremity  ;  but  about  12  miles  below  the 
entrance  it  again  emerges  through  a  fissure  on  the  north  side  of  the  lake,  and  still 
continues  to  flow  throughout  its  lower  course  in  the  same  north-westerlv  direction. 

Chapala,  thus  obliquely  traversed  by  the  current  of  the  Lerma,  is  the  largest 
lacustrine  basin  in  Mexican  territory;  but  this  flooded  depression,  about  600 
square  miles  in  extent,  is  very  shallow,  its  mean  depth  being  only  40  feet,  and 
the  deepest  cavities  not  more  than  110  feet.  Everywhere,  but  especially  on  the 
north  and  east  sides,  its  blue  limpid  waters  are  encircled  by  an  amphitheatre  of 
hills,  whose  slopes  are  covered  with  a  rich  growth  of  forest  trees  and  lianas.  The 
shores  of  this  romantic  basin  present  some  of  the  loveliest  scenery  in  Mexico  ;  but 
tin  recently  few  travellers  ventured  to  visit  these  almost  uninhabited  regions. 

At  present  a  railway  runs  along  the  north-east  side  of  the  lake,  and  it  has  even 
been  proposed  to  found  a  school  of  navigation  on  one  of  the  inlets  of  the  inland  sea. 
Other  lakelets  dotted  over  the  slopes  of  the  moimtains  about  the  western  extremity 



of  Chapala  seem  to  imply  that  its  basin  was  formerly  far  more  extensive  that  at 
present ;  at  that  time  it  appears  to  hare  discharged  its  overflow  westwards  through 
the  valley  of  the  river  now  flowing  towards  the  Bay  of  Banderas,  and  some 
engineers  have  proposed  to  cut  a  canal  through  this  old  fluvial  bed.  At  the  point 
where  the  outlet  was  situated  lava  streams  descended  from  the  neighbouring 
heights  in  prehistoric  times.  The  issue  was  thus  obstructed,  and  the  waters  were 
forced  to  expand  into  a  lake  or  else  considerably  to  raise  their  level,  and  after- 
wards seek  a  new  issue  through  the  lowest  breach  in  the  cncii'cling  hills. 

Fig.  20. — Laxe  CnAPiiA. 
Scale  1  : 1,500,000. 



;  30  Miles. 

These  hills  are  in  fact  traversed  by  the  Lcrma  through  a  scries  of  gorges  exca- 
vated by  erosion  in  the  eruptive  rocks.  To  judge  from  the  extreme  irregularity 
of  its  course,  this  fluvial  valley  would  appear  to  be  of  comparatively  recent 
geological  date.  Its  whole  bed  is  disposed  like  a  gigantic  flight  of  irregular  steps, 
where  the  stream  develops  a  continued  succession  of  high  cascades  and  rajjids,  all 
the  way  to  the  vicinity  of  the  coast.  These  gorges  begin  with  one  of  the  finest 
cataracts  in  Mexico,  named  Juanacatlan  from  a  neighbouring  village.  Rushing 
over  a  precipice  65  feet  high,  the  current  acquires  a  tremendous  impetus  estimated 
at  30,000  horse-power,  and  it  is  feared  that  the  neighbourhood  of  Guadalajara  may 
tempt  speculators  to  convert  the  falls  into  a  series  of  reservoirs  and  mill  races. 

Desj^ite  its  abundant  discharge,  estimated  at  4,000  cubic  feet  per  second,  the 
Lerma  is  not  navigable,  and  its  bed  may  in  many  places  be  easily  forded.  But  its 
numerous  ravines  arc  scarcely  anywhere  accessible  to  wheeled  traffic  or  even  pedes- 
trians ;  hence  roads  and  tracks  have  had  to  be  laid  do-\vn  across  the  escarpments  of 
the  surrounding  mountains. 

At  Santiago,  where  the  Eio  Grande  at  last  emerges  on  the  low-lying  coastlands, 
it  is  still  145  feet  above   sca-lcvel ;   it   enters  the  Pacific   through  a   ramifying 



channel  just  north  of  San  Bias  Bay,  opposite  the  Tres  Marias  islets,  which  continue 
north-westwards  the  normal  trend  of  the  coast,  as  indicated  by  the  direction  of  the 
shore-line  south  of  Cape  Corrientes.  The  alluvial  matter  washed  down  by  the 
Lerma  has  filled  up  a  part  of  the  space  separating  the  mainland  from  this  insular 
group ;  both  northwards  and  southwards  the  land  is  encroaching  seaward,  and  the 

FijJ.  21.  — CoLOILiUO  ESTUAET. 

Scale  1  :  860,000. 


Oto  5 

5  Fathoms 
aud  upwards. 

Banks  exposed 
at  low  tides. 

=,  18  Miles. 

true  coast  at  the  foot  of  the  hills  is  now  washed  by  shallow  lagoons  which  are  pro- 
tected by  sandy  strips  from  the  open  sea. 

North  of  the  Rio  Lerma  no  other  copious  rivers  reach  the  Pacific  within  the 
Mexican  frontier ;  even  those  which,  like  the  Eio  del  Fuerte,  the  Rio  Yaqui,  and 
the  Sonera,  have  large  catchment  basins,  roll  down  very  little  water.     This  is  due 



to  the  slight  rainfall  and  long  droughts,  dui'ing  which  the  springs  run  dry  and 
large  rivers  become  impoverished,  though  their  sources  lie  far  inland  on  the  interior 
of  the  plateau,  and  like  the  Rio  Yaqui  even  on  the  eastern  slope  of  the  Sierra 
Madre.  Many  noisy  torrents  rushing  through  foaming  cascades  over  the  heights 
of  the  Sierra  Madre  fail  to  reach  the  sea,  and  run  out  in  the  sands  of  the  lowland 
plains.  Others,  especially  in  Lower  California,  are  mere  wadies  which  are  seldom 
flooded,  and  their  stony  beds  are  the  only  roads  in  the  country.  To  obtain  a  little 
water  oozing  up  between  the  shingie  deep  holes  have  to  be  sunk,  which  are  locally 
known  by  the  name  of  bataques.  The  old  estuaries  have  become  salt  pans,  and  the 
Rio  Colorado,  whose  lower  course  alone  is  comprised  within  Mexican  territory, 
resembles  the  rivers  of  Souora  in  the  slight  amount  of  its  discharge  compared  with 

Kg.  22.~Closed  Basins  of  Mexico. 
Scale  1 :  EO.OOO.OOO. 

Lakes  of  the  closed  b.isins. 
—^.^—.  C20  Miles. 

the  vast  extent  of  its  drainage  area ;  however,  this  great  watercourse  is  navigable 
for  some  hundred  miles  beyond  the  limits  of  the  common  frontier. 

All  that  part  of  Mexico  which  is  comprised  between  the  two  converging 
border  ranges  is  also  too  arid  for  all  its  watercourses  to  unite  in  perennial  streams 
and  reach  the  ocean  through  the  Rio  Bravo  or  any  other  large  river.  Most  of 
them,  being  too  feeble  to  surmoimt  the  heights  enclosing  or  intersecting  the  plains, 
lose  their  waters  in  some  shallow  lagoon  which  rises  or  falls  with  the  seasons.  All 
the  saline  basins  met  in  Chihuahua  and  Coahuila  are  depressions  of  this  sort  formed 
by  torrents  descending  from  the  mountains. 

Such  is  the  large  Guzman  lagoon  near  the  Arizona  frontier,  where  is  discharged 
the  exhausted  current  of  the  Rio  Casas  Grandcs  at  a  lower  altitude  than  the  level 


of  the  neighbouring  Eio  Bravo  del  Xorte.  Other  marshy  tracts,  like  the  lagoons 
of  Santa  Maria  and  dos  Patos,  have  a  similar  origin,  and  the  bed  of  the  Bolson  de 
Mapimi  is  also  occupied  by  a  closed  reservoir,  the  Tlahualila  lagoon. 

Farther  south  the  Rio  de  Xazas,  which  is  a  somewhat  copious  stream  in  the 
upper  valleys  of  the  Sierra  Candela,  is  arrested  in  the  Laguna  del  iluerto,  while 
the  Rio  d'Aguanaval  does  not  always  reach  the  Laguna  de  Parras.  In  various 
parts  of  these  desert  spaces  occur  numerous  ojos  or  "  eyes,"  that  is,  springs,  some 
thermal,  some  cold,  but  nearly  aU  richly  charged  with  chemical  siibstances. 
Several  have  gradually  raised  circular  margins  of  siliceous  or  calcareous  deposits 
round  their  orifice,  and  in  some  places  these  accumulations  are  high  enough  to 
form  veritable  hillocks.  Froebel  saw  a  streamlet  flowing  from  a  knoll  about  thirty 
feet  high,  which  had  been  built  up  in  this  way  by  the  water  itself. 

In  the  State  of  San  Luis,  where  the  plateau  is  already  divided  by  the  mountain 
ranges  into  numerous  small  basins,  there  are  no  extensive  lagoons  like  those  of  the 
northern  provinces ;  but  this  district  contains  over  one  hundred  small  lakes  or 
rather  ponds,  nearly  all  of  which  have  become  saline.  The  plains  are  largely 
covered  with  various  kinds  of  efflorescences,  some  composed  of  saltpetre,  others 
consisting  for  the  most  part  of  carbonate  of  soda.  They  still  retain  their  old  Aztec 
name  of  feqitesquite  in  Mexico,  where  the  smelters  use  them  in  treating  the  various 
silver  and  argentiferous  lead  ores. 

Closed  lacustrine  basins  arc  also  found  in  the  valleys  of  the  border  range  south 
of  the  plateau.  Such  is  the  Patzcuaro  or  "Greater  Lake,"  in  the  State  of  Mexico, 
an  island-studded  depression  encircled  on  all  sides  by  mountaius,  and  containing  a 
slightly  brackish,  but  still  potable  water.  Such  is  also  the  Cuitzeo,  a  deep  reser- 
voir which  is  filled  by  the  river  Morelia,  whose  extremely  salt  water  sterilises  all 
the  surrounding  lands  during  the  inundations. 

But  of  all  these  flooded  depressions  the  most  remarkable  are  those  from  which 
the  Mexican  plateau  takes  its  name  of  Anahuac,  that  is,  ^\jial-huatl,  "  Amid  the 
TTaters,"  a  term  afterwards  extended  to  all  the  upland  plains  of  this  region. 
These  lakes,  or  rather  shallow  ponds,  are  disposed  in  a  chain  running  north  and 
south  for  a  distance  of  about  46  miles  ;  but  their  superficial  area  varies  from  year 
to  year  and  from  season  to  season,  so  that  they  present  different  contour  lines  on 
maps  constructed  at  different  periods. 

The  southern  lakes  Xochimilco  and  Chalco  really  form  only  a  single  sheet  of 
water  divided  into  two  basins  by  a  narrow  dyke.  Thanks  to  the  copious  streams 
descending  from  the  neighbouring  hills  this  depression  has  maintained  its  old 
outlines  with  little  change.  A  canal,  nmning  northwards  to  the  city  of  Mexico, 
discharges  the  overflow  into  Lake  Texcoco,  which  occupies  the  bed  of  a  periodically 
flooded  basin  from  five  to  seven  feet  below  the  level  of  the  capital.  The  northern 
Lakes  San  Cristobal,  Xaltocan,  and  Zumpango  stand  like  Xochimilco  and  Chalco 
above  that  level.  Hence  during  the  inundations,  when  the  rivulets  converge 
from  the  plaiu  of  Pachuca,  descending  from  basin  to  basin  towards  the  south,  the 
city  woiild  be  threatened  with  total  destruction  were  the  embankments  to  burst 
which  have  been  constructed  below  each  reservoir. 


From  tlic  descriptions  handed  down  by  the  Spanish  conquerors,  and  the 
comparative  observations  made  at  different  epochs,  it  is  evident  that  the  extent 
and  volume  of  these  Mexican  lakes  have  continued  to  diminish  duiing  the  last 
three  hundred  and  fifty  years.  The  capital  was  formerly  represented  as  a 
"  lacustrine  city  "  surrounded  by  flooded  plains,  whereas  at  present  it  stands  on 
dry  land,  the  lakes  no  longer  occupying  even  a  third  of  the  "  vallej'."  They 
have  also  become  shallower,  and  the  bed  of  the  Texcoco  basin  is  steadily  silting 
up  with  the  sands  of  the  plains  moving  forward  under  the  action  of  the  winds. 
Its  level  woiild  even  be  raised  and  its  contents  discharged  on  the  city  but  for  the 
excessive  evaporation,  by  which  the  volume  of  water  is  gradually  diminishing. 
In  1804,  at  the  time  of  Humboldt's  visit,  its  depth  varied  from  10  to  16  feet,  but 
in  1885  it  had  fallen  to  5  feet  6  inches  in  the  deepest  parts,  with  an  average 
of  scarcely  more  than  2  feet.  In  1881  it  was  even  much  shallower,  little  over 
12  inches  in  many  places,  and  in  exceptionally  dry  years  Texcoco,  San  Cristobal, 
Xaltocan,  and  Zumpango  have  been  exhausted.  In  fact  this  brackish  depression 
would  have  long  ago  been  emptied  but  for  the  flow  from  Chalco  and  Xochimilco. 

It  is  generally  supposed  that  the  local  climate  has  really  become  drier  since 
the  time  of  the  conquest.  The  disappearance  of  the  forests  from  the  slopes  and 
plains  would  appear  to  have  increased  the  evaporation  by  giving  greater  play  to 
the  winds,  without  a  corresponding  increase,  perhaps  even  a  decrease,  in  the 
rainfall.  At  present  the  contents  of  the  lacustrine  basins  in  the  valley  of  Mexico 
are  insignificant  compared  with  their  volume  in  a  former  geological  epoch.  The 
bed  of  the  old  lake,  that  is,  the  so-called  "  valley,"  consists  of  quaternary  debris, 
sands,  clays,  pumice,  scoriaj,  organic  remains,  superimposed  in  successive  layers 
so  thick  that  they  have  not  yet  been  pierced  by  the  shafts  of  an  artesian  well  sunk 
to  a  depth  of  1,270  feet.  In  some  places  the  calcareous  strata  of  lacustrine  origin 
have  yielded  spring  water  at  a  comparatively  slight  distance  from  the  surface  ;  but 
elsewhere  nothing  has  been  met  excejat  the  quaternary  deposits.* 

The  chemical  composition  of  the  Texcoco  waters  is  itself  an  indication  of  their 
gradual  concentration  iu  a  continually  narrowing  basin.  Xochimilco  and  Chalco 
are  both  fresh-water  reservoirs,  their  contents  being  constantly  renewed ;  on  the 
opposite  side  of  the  valley  the  other  small  depressions  are  also  flooded  with  fresh- 
water. But  the  central  lake  is  always  brackish  even  after  the  heavy  rains,  when 
it  covers  a  considerable  surface. 

At  a  remote  geological  epoch,  when  the  whole  valley  of  Mexico  was  filled  with 
fresh  water,  the  overflow  was  discharged  through  a  breach  in  the  mountains 
northwards  to  the  Tula  or  Montezuma,  a  headstream  of  the  Panuco  river.     But 

*  Supei-ficial  area  and  relative  altitude  of  the  lakes  iu  the  VaUoy  of  Mexico  (18G5)  : — 



sq.  miles. 


Texcoco    . 

.      100       . 

77  below  the  capital 


.       46       . 

48  above 

>>                !. 


.       2.')       . 

■      50     „ 

San  Cristobal     . 

8       . 

•       63      „ 


Xaltocan  . 

.       40       . 

.       68      „ 

)»                J» 


.        10       . 

.     165      „ 

Jt               1) 



during  the  Listoric  period,  when  a  city  stood  on  an  island  in  the  central  lagoon 
at  a  lower  level  than  several  of  the  separate  basins  which  had  formed  part  of  the 
original  lake,  it  became  necessary  to  protect  the  habitations  and  temples  from 
the  iuundations   by  which  the  lower  part  of   the  depression  might  have  been 

fig-.  23. — Area  or  the  ilExiCAx  Laees  at  ViEiotrs  Peeiods. 

Scale  1  :  530,000. 

fcA  ^  . 

'','■■  •Aijicn^r: 

•  ?5t     O  I      Ve^f^wch 


leoo.  1700.  1S65.       Highest  Hoods. 

Norlhem  Lakes  in  ISSO. 

.  13  Miles. 

flooded.     The  Aztecs  had  accordingly  constructed  strong  defensive  works,  traces 
of  which  may  still  be  seen  near  the  cities  of  Ixtapalapa  and  Guadalupe. 

Eut  these  embankments  at  last  yielded  to  the  pressure,  and  under  the  Spanish 
rule  the  capital  was  for  a  time  exposed  to  all  lacustrine  floodings.  Towards  the 
beginning  of  the  seventeenth  century  the  situation  became  so  dangerous  tliat  it 


was  resolved  to  run  an  underground  tunnel  tHrough  the  sill  which  confined  the 
flood  waters  on  the  north  side.  The  viceroy  summoned  a  vast  army  of  Indian 
labourers  in  order  to  complete  the  work  within  a  single  winter  or  dry  season 
from  the  end  of  November,  1607,  to  the  middle  of  May,  1608.  The  Huehuetoca 
or  Nechistongo  gallery,  as  it  was  called,  had  a  total  length  of  9,000  yards,  and  a 
mean  height  of  12  feet ;  but  it  was  not  arched  and  the  soil  gave  way.  The  outlet 
was  completely  closed  in  16_'9,  when  a  terrific  storm  burst  over  the  city,  flooding 
the  streets  to  a  depth  of  10  feet.  All  traffic  was  carried  on  by  boats,  and  five  years 
passed  before  Mexico  again  stood  on  dry  land.  The  works  had  to  be  resumed, 
but  were  carried  on  without  any  general  plan  and  even  on  mutually  destructive 
lines,  in  one  place  by  underground  galleries,  in  another  by  open  cuttings.  The 
latter  system  at  last  prevailed,  and  in  1789  the  great  undertaking  was  com- 

At  several  points  the  channel,  excavated  between  high  rocky  walls,  presents 
the  appearance  of  some  of  the  boldest  cuttings  executed  by  railway  engineers  in 
modern  times.  For  a  length  of  about  8G0  yards  the  height  of  the  escarpments 
exceeds  165  feet,  and  the  opening  of  the  passage  is  more  than  double  as  wide. 
The  river  Cuautitlan,  which  discharged  into  Lake  Zumpango  a  volume  of  about 
400  cubic  feet  per  second,  was  diverted  to  this  desagi'tc,  or  emissary,  and  the 
northern  lakes  also  sent  their  overflow  through  the  same  channel. 

But  the  friable  parts  of  the  cutting  were  frequently  eroded,  filling  its  bed 
with  mud  and  refuse.  Hence  the  works  had  to  be  incessantly  renewed,  and  during 
the  revolutionary  wars  they  were  abandoned  altogether.  Then  came  the  great 
floods  of  18G6,  which  threatened  to  swamp  the  capital  with  the  swollen  con- 
tents of  the  northern  lakes  rushing  through  breaches  in  the  embankments,  and 
during  which  the  channel  roUed  down  a  volume  of  from  1,050  to  1,100  cubic  feet 
per  second.  To  prevent  such  a  disaster  a  new  emissary  was  projected,  which  was 
intended  to  carry  off  the  overflow,  not  only  of  the  northern  lakes,  but  also  that  of 
Texcoco.  But  little  more  than  a  beginning  was  made  with  the  gallery  six  miles 
long,  by  which  the  waters  were  to  be  drained  off  through  the  Tequisquiac  Mountain. 
For  twelve  years  all  operations  were  suspended  and  not  resumed  till  1881;  at 
present  there  is  some  prospect  of  the  works  being  completed  in  1893. 

But  scientific  men  in  Mexico  are  far  from  being  of  accord  on  the  subject  of 
drainage.  According  to  L.  de  Belina  the  important  question  is  not  how  to  drain 
the  "valley,"  but  on  the  contrary,  how  to  increase  its  humidity.  Arid,  dusty, 
and  treeless,  the  surrounding  plains  must  be  transformed  to  a  desert  unless  the 
running  waters  issuing  from  the  uplands  are  husbanded  for  irrigation  purposes, 
and  unless  the  slopes  of  the  hills  be  replanted  to  improve  the  climate  and  regulate 
the  annual  discharge. 

Ci.tMATE — Flora — Fauna. 

Taken  as  a  whole  the  Mexican  climate  is  one  of  those  that  present  the  greatest 
contrasts  in  a  narrow  space.  Here  the  normal  climate,  as  represented  by  the 
parallels  of  latitude,  is  profoundly  modified  by  the  elevation  of  the  land,  the  aspect 


of  the  mountain  sloiacs,  the  force  and  direction  of    the  winds,  the  distribution  and 
quantity  of  the  rainfall. 

Nevertheless,  in  certain  regions  a  uniform  climate  prevails  over  vast  spaces. 
Thus  the  northern  states  contain  extensive  plains  remote  from  both  oceans,  where 
the  extremes  of  temperature  characteristic  of  the  American  Far  "West  are  continued 
far  to  the  south  on  all  those  plateaux  where  the  prevailing  vegetation  are  the 
cactus  and  thorny  plants,  which  constitute  a  special  zone  combining  the  characfei'S 
of  both  zones. 

On  the  other  hand  the  narrow  region  of  the  Tehuantepec  isthmus  belongs 
entirely  to  the  humid  tropical  zone,  even  on  the  mountains  which  form  the  divide 
between  the  two  oceans.  The  climatic  contrasts  caused  by  the  different  altitudes 
are  produced  in  a  large  way  only  in  the  central  part  of  Mexico,  on  the  Anahuac 
plateau  and  the  two  border  I'anges.  The  route  from  Vera  Cruz  on  the  Atlantic, 
across  the  plateau  between  the  Puebla  and  Oaxaca  uplands,  and  down  to  the 
Pacific  at  Acapulco,  is  the  highway  where  these  sharply  contrasted  climates  may 
be  studied  to  the  best  advantage. 

The  low-lying  maritime  zone  comprises  both  the  swampy  and  unfertile  sandy 
coastlands,  and  the  well-watered  plains  and  first  slopes  which  arc  thickly  clad 
with  leafy  trees  intertwined  with  festoons  of  lianas  and  surmounted  by  the  tufted 
crests  of  tall  palms.  This  is  the  tierm  calimte,  the  "  hot  land,"  where  the  normal 
temperature  exceeds  74°  F.  Some  places  on  the^  Mexican  seaboard  are  in  fact 
amongst  the  hottest  on  the  globe.  Such  is,  for  instance,  the  port  of  La  Paz,  which 
earned  for  California  the  name  of  the  "Hot  Furnace  "  given  to  it  by  Cortes. 

Above  the  coast  zones,  one  facing  the  Atlantic,  the  other  the  Pacific,  follow 
the  tierras  templadas,  or  "temperate  lands,"  comprised  mainly  between  the 
altitudes  of  3,000  and  6,000  feet,  but  rising  to  a  higher  elevation  in  the  southern 
than  in  the  northern  states  of  the  republic.  These  are  the  regions  which  corres- 
pond to  south-west  Europe,  at  least  in  their  mean  temperature,  vegetable  products 
and  suitability  for  settlement  by  the  white  race. 

The  tierras  fempladas  are  succeeded  by  the  ficrras  frias,  or  "  cold  lands," 
which  comprise  the  plateau  proper  with  the  encircling  highlands.  The  less 
elevated  part  of  this  region,  growing  maguey  and  cereals,  is  the  most  densely 
peopled  region  in  Mexico,  whereas  on  the  higher  grounds,  some  of  which  rise 
above  the  snow  line,  the  climate  is  too  rude  to  support  a  forest  vegetation,  or  a 
dense  human  population.  Sometimes  these  higher  groimds  are  grouped  together 
as  a  fourth  zone  distinguished  by  the  name  of  tierras  heladas,  or  "  frozen  lands." 

In  many  parts  special  conditions  have  placed  the  different  vegetable  zones 
in  close  proximity  without  any  graduated  transitions.  From  the  suinmit  of 
certain  headlands,  occupied  exclusively  by  plants  of  a  European  type,  the  traveller 
sees  at  his  feet  palm  groves  and  banana  thickets.  From  the  crests  of  the  great 
volcanoes  all  three  zones  may  even  be  seen  superimposed  one  above  the  other. 
Thanks  to  the  increased  facilities  for  rapid  travelling,  it  is  now  possible  in  a 
single  day  to  traverse  the  three  distinct  zones,  which  elsewhere  are  separated 
one  from  the  other  by  intervals  of  manj''  hundreds  and  even  thousands  of  miles. 

VOL.    XVII.  E 



Eut  although  in  some  exceptional  districts  the  zones  are  brought  into  sharp 
juxtaposition,  they  merge  almost  everywhere  by  successive  transitions  one  into 
another.  It  is  only  in  a  very  general  -svay  that  any  given  region  can  be  said  to 
belong  to  such  or  such  a  zone,  and  the  parting  line  oscillates  greatly,  especially 
about  the  base  of  the  mountains.  A  zone  of  mutual  overlapping  has  been 
developed  under  the  thousand  modifying  conditions  of  soil,  temperature,  winds, 
the  struggle  for  existence  between  the  various  species  of  plants.  Certain  glens 
and  slopes  even  occur,  which,  in  their  vegetation,  form  tropical  enclaves  in  the 
very  midst  of  the  temperate  zone. 

Regarded  as  a  whole,  Mexico,  which  is  intersected  by  the  tropic  of  Cancer 

Fig.  21. — Veetioal  D1SPOSI130N  OF  THE  M.EXiciy  Climates. 
Scale  1  :  12,000,000. 

102°40        V/est  oF   GreenwicK         97°40 



.  310  Miles. 

almost  exactly  in  the  centre,  is  a  hot  country.  Assuming  its  mean  elevation  to  be 
3,600  feet,  the  average  temperature  of  these  latitudes  would  be  about  60°  F.,  or 
nearly  the  same  as  that  of  Nice  or  Perpignan  in  the  south  of  France,  but  far  below 
that  of  African  regions,  such  as  the  Sahara  and  Nubia,  lying  under  the  same  parallels. 

The  Anahuac  plateau  may  be  described  as  a  temperate  region  upheaved 
above  the  tropical  zone.  It  corresponds  to  the  temperate  and  cold  regions  of 
Abyssinia,  which  also  dominate  "  hot  lands,"  such  as  Massawah  and  the  Danakil 
territory.  But  however  favoured  the  Abyssinian  plateau  may  be  in  its  climate, 
it  is  vastly  inferior  to  Mexico  in  the  advantages  of  position  and  means  of  access. 

In  its  latitude,  Mexico  lies  well  within  the  zone  of  the  trade  winds,  which 
blow  regularly  from  north-east  to  south-west,  or  from  east  to  west,  on  the  shores 


of  tlie  Gulf  and  the  slopes  of  the  mountains.  But  their  normal  direction  is 
frequently  modified  by  the  great  inequalities  of  the  relief  and  the  trend  of  the 
mountain  ranges.  The  so-called  iior/es,  or  northern  gales,  which  prevail  especially 
from  October  to  March  in  the  Gulf  waters,  and  which  are  justly  dreaded  by 
skippers  bound  for  Tampico  or  Vera  Cruz,  are  nothing  more  than  the  trade  winds 
deflected  from  their  course,  and  attracted  southwards  bj^  the  heated  and  rarefied 
atmosphere  of  the  low-lying  plains  of  Yucatan.  United  with  the  cold  current 
which  sweeps  down  the  Mississijipi,  the  trades  blow  with  tremendous  fury  along 
the  seaboard,  the  storms  often  lasting  for  several  daj-s,  and  even  a  whole  week, 
to  the  great  danger  of  the  shipping  on  these  exposed  andharbourless  coasts.     The 


Scale  1 :  30.000.000. 


West  dF  GreenwicK 

•  r^ 


0to50°F.  50' to  59=  69' to  68'         68=10  77°    77°  and  upwards. 

620  Miles. 

full  force  of  the  norte  is  scarcely  felt  on  the  plateaux,  and  its  strength  is  completely 
exhausted  before  it  reaches  the  Pacific  slope. 

The  shores  of  this  ocean  have  also  their  special  atmospheric  currents,  which 
are  determined  by  the  disposition  of  the  coastline,  and  the  form  and  elevation  of 
the  neighbouring  mountains.  At  irregular  intervals  during  the  sxmimer  the  aiid 
and  superheated  plateaux  attract  the  aerial  masses  from  the  equatorial  waters,  and 
the  Slexican  uplands  are  at  least  once  a  year  visited  by  sudden  squalls  sweeping 
along  the  Columbian  and  Central  American  seaboard.  At  times  they  assume  the 
character  of  a  veritable  cyclone,  blowing  in  a  few  hours  from  every  point  of  the 
compass.  In  1839,  one  of  these  gales  wrecked  twelve  vessels  in  the  port  of 
Mazatlan  ;  and  llanzanillo,  the  Port  of  Colima,  was  destroyed  by  another  in  1881. 



The  southerly  or  south-easterly  storms,  which  have  received  from  the  missionaries 
the  curious  name  of  Covdonazo  dc  San  Francisco,  or  "  Scourge  of  St.  Francis," 
rarely  penetrate  far  into  the  interior,  although  a  town  of  Michoacan,  near  the 
verge  of  the  central  Mexican  uplands,  has  with  good  reason  been  named  Ario, 
that  is,  the  "  Stormy  "  in  the  Tarascan  language. 

On  the  west  side,  the  prevailing  currents  are  the  so-called  papaffai/os,  or  north- 
easterly trades,  and  the  south-western  monsoons,  that  is,  the  trades  of  the  southern 
hemisphere  attracted  to  the  north  of  the  equator,  and  deflected  from  their  original 

Owing  to  the  contrasts  in  the  relief  of  the  land,  the  differences  of  temperature, 
and  the  irregularity  of  the  winds,  the  rainfall  is  distributed  very  unequally  through- 
out Mexico,  though  it  is  chiefly  regulated  according  to  the  seasons.  Towards  the 
middle  of  May,  when  the  sun  stands  near  the  zenith  of  the  northern  hemisphere, 
the  rains  begin  to  fall.  The  clouds,  following  the  track  of  the  sun  along  the 
ecliptic,  discharge  frequent  torrential  downpours,  at  least  on  the  slopes  facing 
seawards.  Usually,  the  approaching  storm  is  indicated  by  a  great  black  cloud 
rising  from  the  sea  "  like  a  huge  torso  with  half -mutilated  limbs."  It  is  locally 
called  the  giganfon,  or  "  Giant,"  who  will  soon  swallow  up  all  the  heavens.  In 
the  afternoon  the  clouds  are  rent  asunder,  and  Ht  up  by  flashes  of  lightning 
accompanied  with  thunder,  in  which  the  ancient  Aztecs  recognised  the  voice  of 
the  god  Tepeyolotl,  or  "  Heart  of  the  Mountain,"  rumbling  in  long  echoes  over 
the  hills.  The  sudden  downpours  are  followed  by  rain  lasting  usually  till 
nightfall.  Then  it  clears  up,  and  by  dawn  the  wiads  have  already  dried  the 

On  the  Mexican  j^'^^tcau  the  tropical  rains,  brought  by  the  north-easterly 
winds,  fall  regularly  only  during  the  four  months  from  June  to  September,  and 
the  showers  generally  last  less  than  an  hour.  The  rains  are  also  interrupted, 
especially  in  July  and  August,  by  numerous  fine  days,  and  even  by  weeks  of  dry 
weather,  "  St.  Anne's  Spring,"  as  it  is  then  called.  They  cease  altogether  in  Octo- 
ber, when  winter  begins,  which  however  presents  some  of  the  features  of  a  Euro- 
pean summer  ;  hence  its  name  of  estio,  "  summer,"  or  finnjw  de  secas,  "  dry  season." 

It  is  the  lack  of  moisture  in  the  groimd,  rather  than  the  low  temperature, 
that  strips  the  trees  of  their  foliage,  and  thus  imparts  a  wintry  aspect  to  the  land- 
scape. But  the  lofty  ranges  also  assimie  their  snowy  mantle  at  an  altitude  of 
13,000,  and  even  12,500  feet.  In  exceptional  j*ears,  the  Ahualco  Pass  (11,520 
feet)  has  been  covered  with  snow  all  the  way  from  Popocatepetl  to  Ixtaccihuatl, 
and  a  few  flakes  have  even  at  times  fallen  so  low  as  Morelia  (6,400  feet). 

Numerous  irregularities,  however,  are  everywhere  caused  by  the  differences 
in  the  relief  and  aspect  of  the  land.  Thus  two  contiguous  districts  will  some- 
times have  a  totally  different  distribution  of  moisture.  In  certain  regions,  notably 
the  temperate  zone  of  Jalapa  and  Orizaba,  from  1,500  to  8,000  feet  high,  the 
vapours  brought  by  the  northern  winds  are  condensed  In  fogs  which  lie  on  the 
surface  and  precipitate  a  fine  but  persistent  mist.  This  Is  the  so-called  chipicJiipi, 
which    is  awaited  with  impatience  by  the  natives,  for  whom  it  is  the  essential 


condition  of  prosperity,  tlie  salutl  del  puchlo.  During  its  i^revalence  the  sun 
remains  clouded  generallj-  for  a  period  of  about  eight  da)^s. 

At  all  times  the  rainfall  is  more  copious  in  the  southern  j)rovinces,  where  the 
land  is  contracted  between  the  Atlantic  and  Pacitic  inlets,  and  where  the  sun  twice 
crosses  the  zenith  of  the  earth.  Here  the  annual  fall  ranges  from  80  to  120  inches, 
gradually  diminishing  thence  northwards  to  the  regions  beyond  the  tropic  of 
Cancer.  Thus  in  Sonora  the  rains  scarcely  begin  before  the  month  of  Juh',  and 
are  frequeutl}"  interrupted  during  the  normal  season.  Those  northern  regions 
especially  which  lie  between  the  two  main  ranges  have  a  very  dry  climate,  the 
moisture-bearing  clouds  being  here  intercepted  by  the  slopes  of  the  Sierra  Madrcs. 
On  these  excessively  arid  plateaux  a  disjDlay  of  extremely  vivid  sparks  is  often 
produced  by  the  friction  of  two  hard  bodies.  A  continuous  crepitation  or  crackling 
sound  is  sometimes  even  heard  escaping  from  all  the  rugosities  of  the  rocky  soil. 

As  a  whole  the  Mexican  climate,  if  not  one  of  the  healthiest,  is  certainly  one 
of  the  most  delightful  in  the  world.  The  zone  of  "  temperate  lands  "  on  both 
oceanic  slopes  enjoj's  an  "  everlasting  spring,  "  being  exposed  neither  to  severe 
winters  nor  to  intolerable  summer  heats ;  in  every  glen  flows  a  rippling  stream ; 
every  human  abode  is  embowered  in  a  leafy  vegetation,  and  here  the  native  plants 
are  intermingled  with  those  of  Europe  and  Africa.  Each  traveller  in  his  turn 
describes  the  valley  in  A^hich  he  has  tarried  longest  as  "  the  loveliest  in  the  world," 
that  nowhere  else  the  snowy  crests  or  smoking  volcanic  cones  rise  in  more  im- 
posing grandeur  above  the  surrounding  sea  of  verdure  all  carpeted  with  the 
brightest  flowers.  In  these  enchanting  regions  there  is  still  room  for  millions 
and  millions  of  human  beings.* 

The  Mexican  flora  is,  so  to  say,  a  living  illustration  of  its  climate,  for  the 
plants  thrive  or  droop  according  to  the  varied  conditions  of  temperature,  aspect, 
and  moisture.  From  the  character  of  the  vegetation  the  botanist  knows  at  once 
whether  the  heat  or  cold  is  excessive,  the  oscillations  of  the  thermometer  mode- 
rate or  extreme,  the  rainfall  abundant  or  slight.  In  these  respects  Mexico  presents 
the  greatest  contrasts,  deserts  and  steppes  alternating  with  scrub,  and  mighty 
forests  bound  together  in  an  inextricable  tangle  of  creepers  and  undergrowths. 

In  the  northern  regions  the  rocky  Chihuahua  and  neighbouring  provinces, 
where  rain  seldom  falls,  have  an  extremely  sparse  vegetation,  consisting  of  greyish 
thorny  plants  with  largo   hard  leaves,   a  vegetation  which    adds   little   to  the 

*  Meteorological  conditions  of  some  Mexican  stations  taken  in  the  dii-ection  from  north  to  south : — 

StationK  T^aHtude  Height.  Mean  EainfaU. 

ftianons.  J^atituae.  j-^^j  Temperature.  Inches. 

Monterey  (1888)    ....  25°  40'  1,036  70=  F.  137 

Mazatlan  (six  years)       .     .  23°  11'  150  76°  39 

Zacatecas  (1888)    ....  22°  47'  8,100  58°  19 

San  Luis  Potosi  (2  years)    .  22°  05'  6,230  62°  16 

Leon  (1888) 21°    7'  5,920  65°  35 

Guanajuato  (1888)    ...  21°    1'  6,645  63°  33 

Guadalajara  (6  years)     .     .  20°  41'  5,180  72°  34 

Mexico  (12  years)      .     .     .  19°  26'  7,400  60°  30 

CoUma  (15  years)      ...  19°  12'  1,655  78°  42 

Puebla  (2  years)   ....  19°  7,110  60°  39 

Oaxaca  (1879)      ....  17°    3'  5,108  67°  38 


general  aspect  of  the  landscape.  Nevertheless  in  spring  their  arid  plains  are 
suddenly  decked  with  many-coloured  flowers,  the  mezquito  shrub  is  covered 
with  a  pale  yellow  blossom,  clusters  of  white  bells  shoot  up  from  amid  the  glossy 
foliage  of  the  jaicca,  the  shingly  tracts  are  enlivened  by  the  bright  red  petals  of 
the  mamillaria.  Thanks  to  its  soft  velvety  turf,  Europe  may  have  more  cheerful, 
but  assured!}'  not  more  brilliant,  grassy  meads. 

But  this  "  flowery  season  "  is  soon  over,  and  nature  presently  resumes  its  dull 
and  sullen  aspect,  relieved  here  and  there  only  by  a  few  thickets  of  delicate  green 
thorny  shrubs.  The  prevailing  species  are  the  mezqultes  (algarrobia  glandulosa), 
for  the  most  jjart  very  different  from  those  found  in  the  United  States,  but,  like 
them,  still  exuding  a  substance  resembling  gum-arabic.  In  New  Mexico  they  are 
mere  bushes  whose  stems  branch  off  directh*  from  the  root ;  in  south  Texas  they 
develop  into  shrubs ;  but  within  Mexican'  territory,  and  especially  in  Sonora,  they 
assume  the  proportions  of  veritable  trees,  here  and  there  grouped  in  large  groves. 

Elsewhere,  notably  on  the  slopes  of  the  "Western  Sierra  Madre,  in  the  states 
of  Chihuahua,  Sonora  and  Sinaloa,  the  oak  is  the  prevailing  species  ;  hence  the  term 
encinal,  or  "  oak  lands,"  applied  in  these  regions  to  any  extensive  wooded  tracts. 
The  term  chaparral,  which,  strictly  speaking,  should  be  applied  only  to  the  deci- 
duous  oak,  is  in  the  same  way  given  by  the  northern  Mexicans  to  all  spaces  under 
scrub  or  brushwood  ;  in  ordinary  language  every  grove  or  thicket  is  a  chajDarral, 
even  where  the  mezquites  and  large  cactus  are  the  dominant  types. 

Except  along  the  river  banks  fringed  by  poplars  and  willows,  the  only  woody 
plants  in  certain  northern  regions  of  Mexico  are  the  cactus.  Of  these  the  most 
remarkable  are  the  pifa/ia/jas,  which  assume  the  form  of  thorny  fluted  columns.  The 
branches  stand  out  at  right  angles  from  the  stem,  and  then  grow  parallel  with  it,  thus 
forming  prodigious  candelabra,  some  of  which  are  3-5  or  40  and  even  60  feet  high. 

Other  species  are  reckoned  by  the  hundred  which  have  adapted  themselves  to 
the  arid  climate  by  developing  an  abundance  of  sap  in  their  thick  leaves,  and 
protecting  themselves  against  animals  by  thorny  armour.  Amongst  these  fantastic 
plants  there  are  some  which  at  a  distance  might  be  taken  for  blocks  of  greenish  stone. 

In  certain  places  the  ground  is  completely  carpeted  as  by  a  kind  of  green 
sward  with  dwarf  agaves,  which  are  still  known  by  their  old  Aztec  name,  ixtk  or 
ia;tli.  The  larger  species  of  this  useful  plant,  whose  fibre  is  used  for  weaving 
coarse  textile  fabrics,  and  whose  sap  serves  for  the  preparation  of  brandy  and  other 
national  drinks,  flourish  especially  in  the  inland  states  of  San  Luis  Potosi, 
Zacatecas,  Durango,  Aguascalientcs,  and  even  on  the  colder  plateaux.  In  many 
districts  the  general  character  of  the  scenery  is  determined  by  these  agave  planta- 
tions, with  their  enormous  thorny  leaves,  associated  with  hedges  of  other  species, 
such  as  the  organos,  so  named  from  their  resemblance  to  the  pipes  of  an  organ. 

The  three  superimposed  zones,  ranging  from  the  foot  of  the  mountains  to  the 
upland  valleys  of  the  plateaux,  are  characterised  by  special  types,  which  impart 
to  the  several  floras  their  distinctive  features.  Thus  on  the  coastlands  of  the  hot 
zone  arc  seen  extensive  savannahs  of  dense  herbage,  magnificent  palm  groves  and 
all  the  trees  of  the  Antilles  noted  for  their  fruits  or  flowers,  their  wood,   bark  or 



essences.  Higher  up  follow  those  glorious  woodlands  where  the  European  and 
tropical  floras  are  everywhere  intermingled ;  here  flourish  the  coffee  shrub,  the 
banana,  the  orange,  and  especially  maize  and  beans,  which  supply  the  staple  diet  of 
the  inhabitants.  Then  comes  the  cold  region,  yielding  wheat ;  a  cereal,  however, 
which  is  here  of  far  less  economic  value  than  maize. 

On  the  plateaux  the  prevailing  trees  are  the  oak  and  pine,  the  former  between 
the  altitudes  of  5,000  and  8,500  feet,  the  latter  rising  from  8,000  to  above  13,000  feet. 
On  most  of  the  higher  crests  the  conifers  reach  or  even  exceed  the  altitude  of 
13,500  feet.  They  are  the  last  arborescent  trees  that  grow  on  the  flanks  of  the 
mountains,  the  space  between  them  and  the  lower  limit  of  perpetual  snow  being 

Fig.  2G. — Vegetable  Zones  in  Mexico. 
Scale  1  :  30,000,000. 

Alpine  Flora.      Finns  pondcrosi        Prairie  Flora.  Sequoia, 


Cere  us 



Pinus  Quercus  crassifolia    Hfematoxylon  Deserts, 

Australia.  and  reticulata.       campechianum. 

G20  Miles. 

exclusively  occupied  by  short  herbage  and  grasses.  But  owing  to  the  overlapping 
of  the  vegetable  zones  of  different  temperatures,  the  pines  of  the  uplands  have 
almost  everywhere  encroached  upon  the  temperate  regions,  and  have  even  descended 
below  the  line  of  3,500  feet. 

The  dominant  types  of  trees  are  represented  by  a  great  number  of  si^ccies,  about 
seventy-five  varieties  of  the  oak  having  been  found  on  the  slopes  of  Orizaba  alone. 
The  ahiiehuetes  or  "cypresses  "  of  Chapultepec,  Atlisco,  Oaxaca,  which  belong  to 
the  same  species  as  those  of  Louisiana  {ta.rodium  cUsiicJium),  grow  to  a  colossal  size; 
they  are  classed  by  Humboldt  with  the  giants  of  the  vegetable  kingdom. 


Many  of  the  numerous  species  of  the  Mexican  flora  have  found  a  home  in  the 
eastern  hemisphere.  Fi'om  Mexico  comes  the  chocolate  ph'int,  which  has  pre- 
ser\-ed  its  Aztec  name  ;  a  species  of  arachis,  the  cacahuate,  which  also  retains  its 
native  designation  in  a  modified  form  ( tlacacahuatl) ;  the  jjine- apple,  the  tomato 
{tomatl  of  the  Indians) ;  the  agave,  and  the  various  species  of  cactus,  jalap,  sarsa- 
parilla  and  other  medicinal  plants,  balsams,  gums,  and  resins.  Both  the  potato 
and  tobacco  are  also  indigenous  to  Mexico. 

The  European  gardens,  orchards,  and  conservatories  are  being  continually  en- 
riched by  exotics  from  Mexico ;  the  naturalist  Poyet  alone  has  introduced  into 
France  as  many  as  sixty  species  of  fruit  trees  and  ornamental  plants  from  the 
single  province  of  Jalapa.  On  the  other  hand  all  foreign  species  maj'  be  acclima- 
tised in  the  vast  "  botanical  garden  "  formed  by  the  successive  terraces  which  rise 
from  the  seaboard  at  Vera  Cruz  or  Mazatlan  to  the  ujjlands  of  Guadalajara  and 
Zacatccas.  The  banana,  whose  name  is  of  Sanskrit  origin,  and  which  has  no 
original  designation  in  any  American  language,  was  probably  introduced  into  the 
New  World  through  the  Canaries  and  Ilaiti.  Wheat  was  brought  by  a  negro 
slave  belonging  to  Cortes,  and  Bernard  Diaz  tells  us  how  he  himself  planted  seven 
or  eight  orange  pips  which  grew  to  be  fine  plants,  the  "  first "  in  Mexico.  The 
conquerors  also  planted  the  first  vine  in  this  fertile  soU,  where  every  industry 
depending  on  the  products  of  the  vegetable  kingdom  might  be  practised. 

At  a  comparatively  recent  epoch,  that  is,  during  tertiary  and  quaternary  times, 
the  Mexican  fauna  comprised  several  species  of  large  quadrupeds  comparable  in 
size  to  those  of  the  Old  World.  Bernard  Diaz  had  alreadj-  noticed  certain  "  giants' 
bones,"  which  he  attributed  to  the  predecessors  of  the  Aztecs,  and  to  similar  finds 
are  due  such  names  as  cerro,  Ionia  or  Uano  del  (jigante,  now  occurring  in  various  parts 
of  the  republic.  These  remains,  which  have  from  time  immemorial  been  used  in  the 
native  pharmacopoeia,  and  which  appear  to  be  really  efiicacious  in  several  maladies, 
are  for  the  most  part  those  of  mastodon.?,  rhinoceroses,  elephants,  deer,  and  horses. 
Under  the  Tequisquiac  hill,  north  of  Mexico,  a  new  species  of  gigantic  armadillo 
has  been  discovered,  which  has  been  named  the  gli/pfodoii  clavipcs. 

The  present  Mexican  fauna  belongs,  like  its  flora,  to  the  North  American  zone,  so 
Ear  as  regards  the  plateau  regions,  and  to  the  Antilles  in  respect  of  the  coastland 
round  the  Gulf,  while  that  of  the  Pacific  seaboard  is  intermediate  between  the 
Califoruian  and  South  American.  In  the  general  aspect  of  its  terrestrial  animals, 
Mexico  is  connected  more  with  the  United  States,  whereas  in  its  marine  forms 
the  reverse  movement  has  taken  place.  Thus  the  prevailing  species  in  the  Gulf  of 
Mexico  as  far  as  Tamaulipas  and  Texas,  and  the  Pacific  coast  northwards  to 
Sonora  and  Lower  California,  have  migrated  from  South  America.  The  species  in 
the  two  oceanic  basins  differ  almost  completely,  and  despite  the  proximity  of  the 
Pacific  and  Atlantic  shores,  their  shells  are  quite  distinct. 

In  the  hot  lowlands,  where  the  atmosphere  is  most  charged  with  vapours,  are 
concentrated  the  largest  number  of  genera  and  species ;  but  this  maj'  be  due  to  the 
fact  that  here  the  populations  are  less  dense,  and  the  work  of  extermination  conse- 
quently less  advanced  than  in  the  temperate  regions.     Three  species  of  monkeys 


dwell  in  the  tropical  forests,  where  the  vampire  hangs  from  the  boughs  of  the 
trees,  and  the  humming-bird,  the  "  solar  beam  "  of  the  old  Mexicans,  flits  from 
flower  to  flower.  Every  town  has  its  organised  bands  of  "  scavenger  "  vultures, 
(cat/tarfcs  atvatus,  zopilote  or  black  vulture),  while  the  king  zopilote  or  white  vul- 
ture {sarcoramjjJius  papa)  holds  sway  in  the  rural  districts ;  when  the  royal  bird 
swoops  down  on  the  carrion,  the  other  species  stand  respectfully  round,  awaiting 
their  turn  to  share  in  the  banquet. 

In  the  thickets  have  their  lair  the  pon^erful  carnivora,  puma,  jaguar  or  tiger- 
cat,  as  well  as  the  tapir,  largest  of  the  Mexican  ungulata.  All  the  emydida?, 
terrapins  or  mud  tortoises,  are  found  in  the  shallow  marine  waters  along  the  coasts, 
while  the  lagoons,  and  especially  the  fluvial  estuaries,  are  infested  by  the  alligator  ; 
the  seashore  and  forests  of  the  coastlands  are  also  the  haunts  of  the  gecko,  basi- 
lisk and  iguana.  A  large  number  of  the  snake  family,  poisonous  or  harmless,  is 
confined  to  the  hot  zone,  which  also  swarms  with  batrachians  ;  here  are  found  most 
of  the  numerous  characteristic  species  of  toads  and  salamanders. 

The  waters  of  the  estuaries  and  coast  streams  teem  with  fishes,  all  the  numerous 
varieties  of  which  difEer  on  the  two  oceanic  slopes,  but  still  present  a  certain  analogy 
in  their  general  distribution.  The  marshy  plains  and  dark  forests  of  the  hot  lande 
are  also  infested  bj'  clouds  of  mosquitoes.  To  escape  from  his  tormentors  the  ox 
plunges  into  the  nearest  quagmire,  leaving  muzzle  alone  exposed  ;  on  this  presently 
alights  the  pretty  little  "  commander  "  bird,  which  lives  on  mosquitoes,  and  thus  the 
unwieldy  beast  and  dainty  winged  creature  combine  against  the  common  enemy. 

The  temperate  lands  have  also  their  special  fauna,  and  certain  species  of  snakes 
and  tortoises  are  found  only  in  this  zone  ;  such  is  the  boa-imperator  which  ranges 
to  an  altitude  of  over  4,000  feet,  and  whose  deified  image  formerly  adorned  the 
temples  of  the  Aztecs.  Specially  characteristic  of  the  northern  provinces  which 
form  a  prolongation  of  the  American  Far  West,  are  the  lizards  met  nowhere  else 
in  Mexico.  TTithin  a  recent  period  bisons  were  still  seen  on  the  uplands  of  Chi- 
huahua, but  this  animal  has  disappeared  altogether  from  the  Xorth  Mexican 

On  one  occasion  Froebel  witnessed  the  passage  of  a  herd  of  antelopes,  num- 
bering at  least  a  thousand  head,  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Lake  Encinillas  in  the 
north-west  of  Chihuahua.  The  grey  bear  of  Oregon,  and  the  wild  sheep,  preyed 
upon  by  three  species  of  the  coyote,  by  tlie  puma  and  the  jaguar,  also  penetrate 
into  North  Mexico  and  Lower  California,  as  do  also  the  Virginian  opossum  and 
the  prairie  marmot.  The  peccary  dwells  in  the  forests,  and  lays  waste  the  neigh- 
bouring plantations.  This  animal  is  much  dreaded  for  the  furious  way  a  whole 
herd  will  sometimes  precipitate  itself  on  the  wayfarer. 

But  of  all  the  Mexican  fauna,  two  only  have  been  domesticated  :  the  huaholoil 
{meleagris  mexicana),  which  is  a  species  of  duck,  and  the  turkey,  introduced  into 
Europe  by  the  Spaniards  from  the  ""West  Indies,"  hence  by  the  French  called 
"  coq  d'Inde."  The  techichi,  an  edible  dumb  dog,  was  soon  exterminated  when 
taxed  by  the  Spanish  authorities.  The  other  farmyard  animals  have  all  been  intro- 
duced into  Mexico  by  the  conquerors. 


Scorpions  are  one  of  the  plagues  on  the  plateaux,  where  the  fields  are  also 
ravaged  by  various  species  of  acrita.  The  nights  in  the  tropical  zone  are  lit  up  at 
night  by  the  firefly  (cociiijos),  flitting  and  flashing  in  the  air  like  coruscations. 
The  ant  is  represented  by  numerous  species,  one  of  the  commonest  of  which  are  the 
arrieros,  or  "muleteers"  (cecodoma  mexicana),  who  excavate  their  crater-like  habi- 
tations in  the  hardest  rock. 

One  of  the  most  interesting  of  the  lower  organisms  observed  by  naturalists  on 
the  Anahuac  plateau  is  the  curious  axolotl,  which  has  been  the  subject  of  pro- 
found studies  in  connection  with  the  theory  of  evolution.  It  aboimds  especially 
in  the  saline  and  sodic  waters  of  Lake  Texcoco,  and  has  rarely  been  met  in  other 
parts  of  the  New  World.  It  is  a  species  of  amphibious  lizard,  furnished  with 
bronchial  tufts  or  gills,  but  liable  to  such  Protean  changes  that  its  classification 
presented  great  difficulties  to  the  first  observers  of  this  eccentric  creature.  They 
gave  it  all  sorts  of  scientific  names,  even  that  of  lusus  aquarum,  "  sport  of  the 
waters,"  and  it  was  then  constituted  a  separate  genus  under  the  title  of  siredon. 

Nevertheless,  many  zoologists  already  pronounced  it  to  be  the  larval  form  of  a 
large  species  of  anib/i/stoiiie,  and  this  view  was  at  last  proved  to  be  correct  by 
Dumeril,  who  gradually  transformed  the  axolotl  to  an  arablystome.  Most  of  the 
axolotls  remain  for  several  generations  in  the  larval  or  tadpole  state,  and  a  few 
only  develop  into  the  perfect  animal.  The  Indians  consider  its  flesh  a  great 
luxury,  and  they  also  greedily  devour  the  eggs  deposited  by  two  species  of  the 
axayacatl  fly  (especially  the  corixa  femovata)  amongst  the  sedge  of  the  Mexican 
lakes.  These  eggs  are  pounded  and  mixed  with  other  ingredients  to  form  cakes,  and 
nests  of  other  larva;,  clustered  together  like  sponges,  are  also  eaten.  According  to 
Virlet  d'Aoust  the  eggs  of  the  axayacatl  deposited  on  the  bed  of  lakes,  hardens  to 
a  kind  of  oolitic  limestone  exactly  similar  to  that  of  the  oolites  of  the  Jura,  which 
were  probably  formed  in  the  same  way. 

The  marine  waters  on  both  sides  of  Mexico  abound  in  animal  life.  Amongst 
the  cetaceans  that  visit  its  shores  are  some  manatees.  Hundreds  of  new  species  of 
molluscs  have  been  discovered  on  the  Pacific  side,  amongst  others  the  aptisia 
(Icpilans,  which  would  aj^pear  to  be  the  same  as  that  from  which  the  Tyrians 
extracted  their  purple  dye.  The  Indians  of  Tehuan tepee  use  it  for  dyeing  their 
fibres,  without  requiring  a  mordant  to  fix  the  colour. 

In  the  Gulf  of  California,  and  especially  near  Paz  and  the  neighbouring  archi- 
pelagoes, extensive  beds  of  jDearl  oysters  are  fished.  Some  other  islands  in  the  same 
gulf  are  frequented  by  myriads  of  various  species  of  aquatic  birds,  and  have  already 
yielded  many  hundred  cargoes  of  guano. 

It  is  noteworthy  that  the  Pacific  islands  lying  at  some  distance  from  the  coast 
have  all  a  fauna  different  from  that  of  the  mainland.  Thus  the  little  Tres-Marias 
group,  about  60  miles  off  the  coast  of  Jalisco,  has  a  special  species  of  humming- 
bird. The  Revilla-Gigedo  archipelago  also  forms  a  separate  zoological  zone,  and 
the  island  of  Guadalupe,  155  miles  distant  from  Lower  California,  has  eleven 
species  of  land  birds,  every  one  of  which  differs  from  the  corresponding  species  on 
the  adjacent  continent. 


Inhabitants  of  Mexico. 

The  hypotheses  that  hare  hem  advanced  regarding  the  origin  of  the  various 
populations  found  hy  the  Spaniards  in  Mexico  at  the  time  of  the  conquest  are 
ahnost  as  numerous  as  the  works  written  on  the  ethnology  of  this  region. 
Naturally,  the  early  writers,  being  obliged  to  harmonise  their  fancies  with  the 
Biblical  texts,  had  to  trace  the  Mexicans  back  to  one  of  Noah's  sons,  arriving  either 
by  sea  with  the  waters  of  the  Deluge  or  by  land  after  the  subsidence  of  the  flood. 

Even  during  the  present  century  certain  authors  have  endeavoured  to  show 
that  these  natives  are  descended  from  the  Jews  "  dispersed  over  the  earth  "  after 
the  Babylonian  captivity.  According  to  them,  the  kinship  is  attested  bj'  the 
physical  appearance,  the  national  character,  the  religious  manners,  customs,  myths, 
traditions,  even  the  very  language  of  the  Mexican  nation.  Other  writers  sought 
in  classical  antiquity,  amongst  the  Egyptians,  Phoenicians,  or  Carthaginians,  for 
some  indications  of  a  former  immigration  into  the  New  "World,  and  Plato's 
Atlantis  could  not  be  overlooked  in  the  conjectural  history  of  the  old  Mexican 
races.  "  The  Atonatiuh,  that  is  to  say,  the  Atlantides,"  says  Alfredo  Chavero, 
"  are  the  mother  people  of  the  civilised  nations  of  Europe  and  America ;  the 
Spaniards  and  the  Toltecs  alike  descend  from  them."  Brasseur  de  Bourbourg  even 
fancied  he  had  made  out  from  the  Xahuatl  manuscript  known  as  the  Codex  Cliimal- 
j}ojMca  that  an  "  eruption  of  volcanoes  stretching  over  the  whole  extent  of  the 
American  continent,  which  was  at  that  time  double  its  present  size,  blew  up  the 
globe,  and  between  two  risings  of  the  morning  star  engulfed  the  richest  regions  of 
the  earth."  Fortunately,  the  Atlantides  of  the  present  Mexico  escaped  the 
disaster,  and  survived  to  record  it  on  those  monuments  of  American  literature 
and  architecture  which  no  savant  had  hitherto  been  able  to  interpret. 

But  putting  aside  these  vagaries,  the  most  accepted  hypothesis,  expounded  under 
various  forms  by  Guignes,  Humboldt,  Prescott,  Quatrefages,  and  Hamv,  regards 
the  Mexicans  as  immigrants  from  Asia,  arriving  either  by  Bering  Strait  or  the 
Aleutian  Islands,  or  else  directly  across  the  ocean,  or  from  group  to  group  of  the 
Polynesian  Islands.  The  relative  proximity  of  the  two  continents  of  Asia  and 
North  America,  and  the  imdoubted  fact  that  Japanese  junks  had  actually  been 
cast  ashore  on  the  Califoi"nian  seaboard  during  the  historic  period,  could  not  fail 
to  suggest  such  views,  and  commend  them  to  the  serious  consideration  of  many 
superficial  enquirers.  There  is,  however,  no  authentic  proof  that  the  mysterious 
region  where  grows  ihefusaiig,  and  which  was  supposed  to  have  been  discovered 
by  a  Chinese  expediiion  at  the  beginning  of  the  seventh  century,  is  really  Mexico 
or  Central  America  ;  nor  does  the  description  of  the  country  given  by  the  old 
Chinese  writer  agree  very  well  with  that  of  the  Anahuac  plateau,  still  less  with 
the  habits  and  customs  of  the  natives  as  described  by  the  Spanish  conquerors. 

The  religion  of  the  Aztecs  differs  also  too  profoundly  from  Buddhism  or  any 
other  east  Asiatic  system  to  recognise  in  it  the  teachings  of  any  Chinese  mission- 
aries. On  the  other  hand  the  fancied  coincidences  of  symboKcal  signs  and  figures 
are  far  too  vague  to  establish  anything  more  than  the  faintest   presumption  ia 


favour  of  former  relations  between  peoples  separated  from  eacL.  other  by  tbe  broad 
waters  of  the  Pacific.  The  communications  that  may  have  taken  place  at  various 
epochs,  and  even  the  resemblances  noticed  between  the  Mexicans  and  Chinese, 
can  in  no  way  justify  the  assumption  of  the  common  origin  of  the  two  races,  or 
even  of  their  cultures.  As  far  as  history  and  tradition  go  back,  the  Mexican 
lands  have  always  been  inhabited  ;  whether  aborigines  or  not,  these  populations 
would  have  been  spoken  of  by  the  Greeks  as  "autochthones,"  or  indigenous. 

As  in  other  places,  such  as  the  neighbourhood  of  Puj',  in  the  south  of  France, 
geologists  have  also  discovered  the  fossil  remains  of  a  quaternary  man  on  the 
Anahuac  plateau,  near  the  city  of  Mexico.  These  interesting  remains,  dating 
from  an  epoch  long  anterior  to  Aztec  civilisation,  were  brought  to  light  in  1884 
at  the  foot  of  the  Pehon  de  los  Bancs  in  the  saline  plains  formerly  flooded  by  the 
waters  of  Lake  Texcoco  to  the  east  of  the  capital.  The  bones  were  found 
in  the  vegetable  humus  imder  a  layer  of  lava  in  association  with  some  kitchen 

The  osteoloo-ical  characters  of  this  fossil  Mexican  man  are  the  same  as  those  of 
the  pure  indigenous  race  of  Anahuac,  in  which  the  canine  teeth  scarcely  differ 
from  the  incisors.  The  man  of  Penon  was  contemporaneous  with  the  elephant, 
deer  and  horse  which  inhabited  the  same  region  at  a  time  when  the  level  of  the 
waters  in  the  Texcoco  lagoon  was  10  feet  higher  than  at  present,  and  when  vol- 
canic eruptions  anterior  to  history  had  not  yet  taken  place. 

Elsewhere,  flints  or  cherts,  evidently  worked  by  the  hand  of  man,  have  been 
found  amongst  deposits  also  containing  the  teeth  and  other  remains  of  the  Ameri- 
can elephant  (elephan  Colomhi).  These  primitive  races  must  consequently  have 
flourished  many  thousand  years  before  the  present  time. 

At  a  time  when  Rome  was  hastening  to  its  fall,  and  the  barbaric  peoples  of 
North  Europe  were  overrunning  the  empire,  the  Anahuac  tableland  in  Central 
America  was  already  the  seat  of  an  advanced  civilisation.  Doubtless,  it  is  far 
from  easy  to  classify  peoples  as  barbarous  or  civilised  according  to  their  various 
degrees  of  culture  ;  but  the  latter  term,  which  has  so  often  a  purely  conventional 
meaning,  may  justly  be  applied  to  the  Aztecs,  or  Mexicans,  as  well  as  to  the 
Mayas  of  Yucatan,  the  Chibchas  (Miiiscas),  Quichuas,  and  Aymaras  of  Soutli 
America.  It  might  even  be  extended  to  the  Pueblo  Indians,  and  perhaps  to  other 
native  communities  in  North  America. 

Amongst  the  loss  advanced  nations,  whom  thej',  nevertheless,  resembled  in 
their  political  and  social  evolution,  the  Mexicans  were  distinguished  by  their 
national  cohesion,  by  their  highly  developed  economic  system,  their  arts  and 
sciences,  as  well  as  the  knowledge  of  numerous  technical  processes  enabling  them 
to  facilitate  labour.  Like  the  early  civilisations  of  the  Old  "World,  such  as 
those  of  Egypt,  Chaldasa,  India,  and  China,  that  of  Mexico  took  its  rise  at  some 
distance  from  the  ocean  on  the  uplands  encircled  by  lofty  border  ranges  or  steep 
escarpments.  It  had  neither  a  Nile  nor  a  Euphrates,  by  which  the  riverain 
populations  could  be  merged  in  a  compact  nation ;  but  it  had  its  lakes,  far  more 
extensive  than  at  present,  whose  shifting  levels,  periodical  floods  and  subsidences 


Imposed  on  tlie  inhabitants  the  necessity  of  co-operation,  of  mutual  aid  and  soli- 
darity, in  which  lie  the  germs  of  all  progress. 

Nevertheless,  compared  with  the  early  historic  civilisations  of  the  eastern 
hemisphere,  that  of  ^Mexico  had  the  disadvantage  of  remaining,  if  not  completely 
isolated,  at  least  almost  entirely  encircled  by  barbai-ic  communities.  It  lacked  the 
proximity  of  other  centres  of  progressive  life,  with  which  to  exchange  those  recip- 
rocal influences  whence  might  spring  another  and  a  higher  culture.  Despite  the 
vertical  disposition  of  the  climates,  rendering  the  hot  lands  highly  dangerous  for 
the  inhabitants  of  the  plateaux,  the  Aztecs  had  doubtless  established  distant  rela- 
tions with  the  3Iayas  and  the  various  groups  of  Nahuas  dispersed  over  Central 
America  ;  but  elsewhere  they  were  cut  off  from  contact  with  all  cultured  peoples, 
imtil  their  seclusion  was  suddenly  and  violently  invaded  by  the  Spanish  conquerors. 
Henceforth,  civilisations  and  races  became  forcibly  intermingled. 

So  rapid  was  the  work  of  destruction  which  followed  the  first  arrival  of  the 
Spaniards  that  antiquarians  might  well  have  feared  the  complete  disappearance 
of  all  documents  relating  to  the  ancient  history  of  Mexico.  Such  records  were 
often  deliberately  destroyed,  as  by  Archbishop  Zumarraga  at  Tlatelulco,  Xufiez 
de  la  Vega  at  Chiapa,  and  others  who,  aping  the  zeal  of  Paul  at  Ephesus, 
burnt,  as  suspected  of  necromancy,  all  the  Mexican  works  they  could  discover. 
Later  they  were  satisfied  with  concealing  the  precious  manuscripts,  which  they 
kept  locked  up  in  their  libraries,  neither  able  nor  willing  to  make  any  use  of 

Fortunately  the  ancient  lore  had  been  kept  alive  in  a  few  noble  families  allied 
by  marriage  with  the  Spanish  conquerors.  The  aid  of  these  men  could  thus  be 
secured  in  the  later  attempts  made  to  restore  the  annals  of  Anahuac.  Many 
natives  contributed  in  this  way  to  rescue  from  oblivion  the  early  records  of 
the  Aztecs  and  the  allied  peoples.  In  the  year  1-348  Tadeo  de  Xiija,  an  Indian  of 
Tlaxcala,  at  the  request  of  the  viceroy,  composed  a  history  of  the  conquest,  which 
was  attested  by  the  signatures  of  thirty  Tlaxcaltec  nobles. 

Gabriel  d'Ayala,  of  Texcpco,  wrote  in  the  Aztec  language  a  history  of  Mexico 
from  the  year  1243  to  1-362.  Contributions  to  the  history  of  her  native  land, 
now  unfortunately  lost,  were  even  made  by  a  Mexican  lady,  Maria  Bartola, 
Princess  of  Ixtapalapa.  Several  pure  or  half-blood  natives,  such  as  Tezozomoc, 
Chimalpahin  and  Camargo,  have  also  left  important  historic  manuscripts ;  lastly 
the  family  of  the  Ixtlilxochitls,  descended  from  the  old  kings  of  Mexico  and 
Teotihuacan,  had  several  representatives  amongst  the  national  historians,  and  one 
of  them,  Fernando  de  Alva  Cortes,  had  even  the  courage  to  exalt  his  ancestry  and 
denounce  the  "frightful  cruelties  ''  of  the  conquerors  of  Mexico. 

But  even  amongst  the  Spanish  missionaries  men  were  found  who  recognised 
something  more  in  Mexican  history  than  the  artifices  of  the  devil,  and  who  went 
to  the  trouble  to  procure  explanations  of  the  pictorial  records,  and  collect  the 
ancient  traditions  of  the  people.  Such  were  Bartolome  de  las  Casas,  Sahagun  and 
Torquemada.  The  historians  of  the  present  century  have  also  been  able  to  throw 
further  light   on   the   pre-Columbian  history  of    the   Mexicans,  thanks   to   the 


discovery  of  new  manuscripts,  the  partial  interpretation  of  the  hieroglj'phics,  and 
a  more  careful  study  of  the  early  writers. 

Aided  by  these  resources  the  student  may  now  roughly  trace  the  sequence  of 
events  for  at  least  a  thousand  years  before  the  conquest,  and  dimly  contemplate 
the  first  glimmerings  of  national  life  amongst  the  Mexican  populations.  At  this 
epoch  the  land  was  already  occupied  by  most  of  the  half-civilised  Indian  nations, 
such  as  the  Otomi,  Chichimecs,  Huaxtecs,  Totonacs,  Mixtecs  and  Zapotecs,  by 
whom  it  is  still  inhabited,  and  according  to  the  national  tradition,  it  was  in  their 
midst  that  the  Nahuas,  that  is,  the  "  Clear-spoken  People,"  made  their  appearance 
in  the  twofold  capacity  of  conquerors  and  civilisers. 

These  intruders,  coming  from  the  "  Seven  Caves  "  of  the  north,  divided  into 
seven  tribes,  each  with  seven  sub-divisions,  and  advancing  southwards  in  seven 
successive  expeditions,  had  to  vanquish  a  race  of  giants  before  securing  possession 
of  the  "  Terrestrial  Paradise."  Then  the  demi-god,  Quetzalcoatl,  a  mythical 
legislator,  coming  iip  from  the  sea,  appeared  amongst  them,  and  after  instructing 
them  in  the  arts,  sciences  and  social  institutions,  suddenly  disappeared  with  a 
promise  some  day  to  return.  This  was  the  long-awaited  Messiah,  and  when 
Cortes  emerged,  as  it  were  from  the  bosom  of  the  deep,  and  presented  himself 
at  the  head  of  his  followers,  the  prophecy  was  supposed  to  be  at  last  fulfilled,  and 
the  people  looked  forward  to  the  dawn  of  a  new  millennium. 

The  sixth  century  of  the  new  era  is  usually  regarded  as  about  the  time  when  a, 
group  of  Nahuas  arrived  in  Anahuac,  after  a  long  series  of  wanderings  from 
Huehue-Tlapallan,  a  city  or  region  which  the  commentators  have  hitherto  failed 
to  identify.  Some  place  it  in  the  north,  others  to  the  south,  of  Mexico.  Never- 
theless, most  of  the  indications  point  to  the  northern  regions  as  the  cradle  of  the 
Nahua  race ;  the  very  form  of  the  Mexican  tableland,  broadening  out  northwards, 
and  contracting  southwards  to  a  labyrinth  of  separate  districts,  shows  the  direction 
in  which  the  migrations  must  have  taken  place.  The  whole  group  of  these  con- 
quering Nahua  tribes  is  represented  in  the  legends  as  issuiug  from  the  "  White 
Dove  of  Cloudland,"  a  personification  of  the  northern  regions. 

Towards  the  close  of  the  seventh  century,  the  Nahuas,  commonly  designated 
under  the  name  of  Toltecs,  are  already  found  grouped  round  a  city  constituting 
the  centre  of  their  power.  Modern  archccologists  have  rediscovered  this  city  in 
the  ruins  of  Tollan,  now  known  by  the  name  of  Tula,  which  lies  fifty  miles,  by 
railway,  north-west  of  Mexico. 

These  early  Nahua  invaders  were  themselves  replaced  by  others  of  the  same 
race,  vanquishers  of  the  Quinames,  or  "  Giants."  The  Olmecs  and  Xicalancs,  as 
they  were  called,  are  represented  as  coming  from  the  east,  where  they  had  doubt- 
less already  constructed  several  of  those  monuments  which  were  later  attributed 
to  succeeding  tribes  of  different  speech.  In  any  case  there  can  bo  no  doubt  that 
the  so-called  Toltec  epoch  Was  one  of  the  richest  in  works  which  still  attest  the 
culture  of  these  early  Nahua  peoples.  The  very  word  toUccatl,  whatever  its 
original  meaning,  had  become  synonymous  with  a  craftsman  of  skill  and  taste,  an 
"artist,"  as  we  should  say.      The  same  term  was  also  applied  to  those  traders 



\vho  made  long  joiirnevs  to  distant  lands,  and  vrho  were  tlie  "  torehbearers  "  of 
JS'ahua  civilisation  in  Central  America. 

Altogether  it  would  seem  probable  that  "  Toltec  "  was  not  the  name  of  any 
particular  people,  and  that  the  "  artists  "  were  simply  Nabuas  like  their  Aztec 
successors.  The  term  Colhua,  or  "  ancestors,"  which  is  also  applied  to  them,  is 
also  an  indication  of  tbeir  common  ethnical  unity. 

The  Tula  domination  lasted  till  the  second  half  of  the  eleventh  century,  when 
the  strength  of  the  powerful  Xahua  tribes  was  for  the  first  time  broken  by 
intestine  strife,  foreign  wars,  and  the  invasion  of  the  Chichimecs,  or  Barbarians, 

Fig.  27. — EsTEST  or  the  Aztec  CosairEsra. 

Scale  1  ;  13,000,iX)0. 

Aztec  Conqiiests. 

.  1S6  Miles. 

accompanied  by  famine  and  pestilence.  The  chronicles  speak  of  milHons  perishing 
amid  all  these  disorders,  and,  for  whatever  reason,  after  this  date  no  further 
mention  is  made  of  the  "  Toltecs,"  or  else  they  are  represented  as  fugitives 
dispersed  amongst  the  surrounding  populations,  or  else  going  southwards  to  found 
new  states  in  Yucatan,  Chiapas,  or  Guatemala. 

Numerous  migrations  are  also  related  of  the  Chichimecs,  who  displaced  the 
centre  of  Xahua  power  southwards  to  the  Anahuac  plateau  properly  so  called, 
first  to  the  shores  of  Lake  Xaltocan,  then  to  the  plains  around  Lake  Texcoco  not 
far  from  the  present  confederate  capital.     Lastly,  the  royal  residence  was  estab- 


lished  at  Texcoco  or  Acolhuacan,  tic  "Ancestral  City";  but  in  1325  the  rival 
city  of  Mexico-Tenochtitlan  rose  on  an  island  amid  the  waters  of  the  lake. 

The  Aztec  founders  of  this  place  were  themselves  of  the  same  Nahua  race  as 
their  Toltec  and  Chichimec  predecessors.  They  had  reached  the  Anahuac  plateau 
towards  the  close  of  the  twelfth  century,  having  a  hundred  and  twenty-five  years 
previously  quitted  their  insular  home  of  Aztlan,  which  has  not  yet  been  identified 
with  certaint}-  by  geographers.  During  those  years  of  wanderings  they  had  dwelt 
in  the  mj'thical  land  of  Chicomoztoc,  that  is,  the  "  Seven  Caves,"  and  traversed 
many  strange  regions  in  search  of  the  "  Land  of  Promise."  The  legend  also  speaks 
of  them  as  the  "  inventors  of  fire,"  that  is,  as  an  ingenious  people,  rivalling  the 
Toltecs  in  their  knowledge  of  the  arts  and  sciences. 

Thanks  to  its  insular  position,  easily  defended  against  all  sudden  attack,  the 
lacustrine  city  grew  rajjidl}-,  and  round  it  were  formed  the  famous  chinampas,  or 
floating  gardens,  which  supplied  the  people  with  provisions  during  times  of  siege. 
Even  after  it  was  divided  into  two  hostile  towns,  the  old  and  democratic  Tenochtit- 
lan  and  the  modern  trading  town  of  Tlatelulco,  it  continued  to  develop  rapidly,thanks 
to  the  inflow  of  immigrants  from  all  parts,  seeking  refuge  in  these  sti'ongholds. 

"When  the  Chichimec  ascendency  was  finally  destroyed,  in  1431,  by  intestine 
wars  and  the  revolt  of  the  oppressed  populations,  Mexico  succeeded  to  the  power 
hitherto  exercised  by  Texcoco.  It  stood  at  the  head  of  the  confederacy  formed  by 
the  three  cities  of  Mexico,  Texcoco,  and  Tlacopan. 

Under  the  hegemony  of  the  A-ztec  capital  their  conquests  soon  spread  beyond 
the  limits  of  Anahuac  proper.  The  annals  of  this  period,  which  agree  on  all  the 
essential  points,  despite  the  partial  accounts  of  writers  of  different  nationalities, 
describe  the  Mexicans  as  reducing  the  surrounding  populations  for  the  twofold 
purpose  of  increasing  their  store  of  gold,  precious  stones,  and  ornamental  feather- 
work,  and  procuring  victims  for  the  altars  of  their  gods.  "Westwards  they  failed 
to  subdue  the  tribes  of  Michoacan,  and  towards  the  north-west  they  scarcely 
advanced  beyond  the  limits  of  the  Anahuac  valley.  But  in  the  direction  of  the 
south  and  south-east  they  had  conquered  the  whole  region  as  far  as  the  coast,  from 
the  mouth  of  the  Panuco  to  the  Alvarado  bar.  But  on  the  plateau  they  left  the 
independent  nation  of  the  Tlaxcalans,  who,  with  hundreds  of  revolted  tribes,  greatly 
facilitated  the  overthrow  of  the  Mexican  empire  by  the  Spanish  invaders. 

Prodigies  and  scourges  of  all  kinds,  say  the  chronicles,  foreboded  the  approaching 
ruin  of  the  Aztec  power,  which  had  already  been  seriously  threatened  by  the  insur- 
rection of  its  own  subjects,  when  Cortes  and  his  Tlaxcalan  allies  presented  them- 
selves before  the  doomed  capital.  Nevertheless  the  name  of  this  opulent  city  has 
been  extended  not  only  to  all  the  surrounding  territorj',  but  also  to  an  aggregate 
of  provinces  or  states  far  more  extensive  than  the  empire  of  Montezuma.  The 
term  "  Mexican,"  formerly  restricted  to  a  fraction  of  the  Aztecs,  themselves 
merely  one  of  the  numerous  branches  of  the  Nahua  race,  is  now  claimed  by  a  great 
nation  of  about  twelve  million  souls. 

The  Spanish  conquerors  could  not  fail  to  recognise  in  Mexico  an  empire  like 
that  of  their  native  land,  where  the  will  of  a  potent  ruler  was  implicitly  obeyed 


throughout  his  wide  dominions,  where  he  nominated  the  provincial  governors, 
imposed  tribute  and  levied  troops.  They  fancied  that  here  also  aU.  authority- 
emanated  from  the  imperial  power  which  was  regularly  maintained  in  the  same 
dynasty  by  a  sort  of  right  divine.  They  were  unable  to  understand  that  the 
Aztecs,  after  having  lived  in  family  commimities  without  any  private  ownership 
of  the  soil,  had  established  a  military  democracy  formed  of  kindred  groups  who 
selected  their  own  "speakers,"  that  is,  chiefs. 

Surprised,  on  the  other  hand,  to  find  in  the  New  World  a  great  city,  larger  and 
wealthier  than  their  own  capitals,  the  conquerors  naturally  exaggerated  the 
resources  of  Mexico  and  the  culture  of  its  inhabitants.  Nevertheless  certain  docu- 
ments relating  to  the  native  language,  the  sciences  and  the  art  of  transmitting 
thought,  the  care  also  bestowed  on  agriculture  and  irrigation,  lastly,  the  objects 
preserved  in  our  museums,  and  the  monuments  still  standing  in  the  neighboui'hood 
of  the  cities  or  buried  under  dense  forest  growths,  make  it  evident  that  Mexican 
civilisation  had  raised  itself  far  above  the  level  of  barbaric  populations. 

The  Aztec  language,  which  was  probably  identified  with  that  of  the  Toltecs 
and  Chichimecs,  and  certain  dialects  of  which  were  and  still  are  spoken  far  to  the 
south  in  Guatemala,  Salvador,  and  Nicaragua,  was  by  far  the  most  prevalent  idiom 
in  Mexican  territory.  It  was  current  throughout  the  greater  part  of  the  Anahuac 
plateau,  on  the  Gulf  of  Mexico  as  far  as  the  Coatzacoalcos  delta,  and  on  the 
Pacific  coastlands  from  the  Gulf  of  California  to  that  of  Tehuantepec.  It  is  still 
in  use,  side  by  side  with  Spanish,  in  all  these  regions,  although  the  modern  dia- 
lects scarcely  retain  a  third  of  the  stock  of  words  in  the  literary  standard.  As 
the  exclusive  medium  of  civilised  intercourse  Aztec  had  become  the  language  of 
diplomacy  and  trade ;  as  each  province  was  conquered,  the  speech  of  the  ruling 
people  assumed  an  official  character,  and  the  inhabitants  were  compelled  to  learn  it. 

Aztec  belongs  to  the  polysynthetic  order  of  speech,  and  of  this  class  it  is  a 
tvpical  specimen  ;  the  words  of  the  sentence  are  fused  together  by  modification  to 
an  extraordinary  extent,  and  in  accordance  with  many  subtle  laws  of  euphony. 
The  language  is  wonderfully  plastic,  and  those  writers  who  have  studied  it 
thoroughly  vie  with  each  other  in  vaunting  its  varied  qualities  of  grace,  subtlety 
and  wealth  of  descriptive  terms  ;  in  his  work  on  natural  history  Hernandez 
enumerates  two  hundi-ed  species  of  native  birds  and  twelve  hundred  of  plants,  all 
of  which  have  distinct  names  in  Aztec.  It  also  abounds  in  abstract  terms  to  such 
an  extent  that  translators  have  had  no  difficulty  in  finding  Mexican  expressions 
for  such  metaphysical  or  religious  words  as  occiu'  in  the  New  Testament,  the 
Imitation  of  Christ,  and  other  works  of  a  like  character.  Its  finest  literarj'  monu- 
ments are  of  an  ethical  order,  moral  exhortations  breathing  a  lofty  sentiment 
imsurpassed  even  in  Hindu  classical  literature. 

A  remarkable  indication  of  the  high  degree  of  civilisation  attained  by  the 
Mexicans  is  afforded  by  their  knowledge  of  astronomic  phenomena.  They  were 
able  to  describe  the  movements  of  the  sun,  moon,  and  some  planets,  and  the  exact 
duration  of  the  solar  year ;  the  retvirn  of  each  "  new  plant,"  as  they  expressed  it, 
was  more  accurately  known  to  them  than  it  is  even  now  in  official  Russia,  where 

VOL.   XVII.  ■£ 


the  present  calendar  is  twelve  days  behind  time.  Like  that  of  their  Zapotec  and 
Michoacan  neighbours,  their  year  was  divided  into  eighteen  months  of  twentj' 
days,  to  -n-hich  were  added  five  sujaplementary  days,  often  regarded  as  of  bad 
omen.  But  in  order  more  completely  to  harmonize  the  conventional  with  the 
astronomic  year,  after  every  cycle  of  fifty-two  years  a  period  either  of  twelve  or 
thirteen  days  was  intercalated  according  to  the  necessities  of  the  calculations. 

The  numeral  system  was  vigesimal,  that  is,  four  times  five,  the  days  being  also 
grouped  in  fives,  the  fifth  answering  to  our  seventh,  and  possessing  a  certain 
importance  as  set  apart  for  feasts  and  markets.  But  the  j-ears  were  differently 
divided,  each  tlalpilli,  "  knot "  or  "  bundle,"  consisting  of  thirteen,  and  four  of 
these,  that  is,  a  series  of  fifty-two  years,  constituting  the  xiultmol2}iUi,  or  cycle. 
In  the  eyes  of  the  Mexicans  this  formed  the  chief  period  of  time,  and  with  it 
were  accordingly  associated  certain  mystic  ideas  on  the  government  of  their  daily 
life  and  of  society.  To  them  the  normal  duration  of  human  existence  seemed  to 
coincide  with  the  xiuhmolpilli,  and  from  the  few  men  to  whom  the  gods  granted 
the  privilege  of  living  through  two  of  these  periods,  the  double  cj'cle  took  the 
name  of  huehuetilitztli,  or  "  old  age."  According  to  a  law — which,  however,  was 
not  always  enforced — the  Toltec  chiefs  shoidd  rule  for  exactly  a  cycle,  and  when  a 
chief  died  before  completing  the  period,  a  council  of  elders  assumed  the  government 
in  his  name.  On  the  other  hand  those  who  exceeded  the  term  had  to  abdicate, 
and  their  successors  began  their  reign  from  the  hour  indicated  in  the  calendar. 

As  amongst  the  peoples  of  the  Old  World,  the  solar  had  been  preceded  by  a 
lujiar  year  ;  hence  it  was  that  the  revolutions  of  the  moon  continued  to  regulate 
the  religious  calendar  of  feasts  and  observances,  which  are  always  more  faithful 
to  established  usage.  In  the  same  way,  in  the  various  European  religions  the 
great  feast  of  Easter,  which  had  originally  been  the  feast  of  the  spring-tide, 
that  is,  of  renewed  nature,  is  still  determined  by  the  revolutions  of  the  moon. 

Although  the  Mexicans  had  not  invented  a  writing  sj^stem  in  the  strict  sense 
of  the  term,  they  were  still  able  to  perpetuate  their  records,  to  draw  maps  by 
"painting  in  a  natural  way  all  the  rivers  and  harbours,"  to  establish  their 
genealogies,  to  publish  their  laws  and  edicts,  to  describe  the  industrial  arts,  the 
occupations  of  the  household,  lastly,  to  transmit  even  abstract  thought,  by  means 
of  hieroglyphical  figures.  Usually  these  figures,  of  square  form  with  rounded 
angles,  were  painted  in  vivid  colom's  on  a  kind  of  paper  made  from  the  fibres  of 
the  maguey  and  anacahuite,  the  "paper  tree  "  (cord/a  boissicri),  or  else  on  skins  or 
strips  of  cotton  covered  with  varnish  and  bound  together  like  a  fan,  forming  an 
amatl,  or  book  ^■ith  wood  boards  for  covers.  The  public  buildings,  and  here  and 
there  the  face  of  the  rocks,  especially  in  the  Western  Sierra  Madre,  were  also  embel- 
lished with  hieroglyphics  inscribed  on  the  stone. 

A  careful  study  of  these  documents  shows  that  in  the  employment  of  such 
characters  the  Mexicans  had  advanced  beyond  the  purely  figurative  and  symbolic 
sense,  in  many  combinations  already  using  them  as  phonetic  signs,  so  as  to  form  a 
kind  of  rebus  ;  in  this  way  were  written,  for  instance,  the  names  of  cities.  From 
the  earliest  historic  times  the  Toltecs  possessed  extensive  libraries  of  these  painted 


manuscripts,  which,  however,  the  Aztecs  are  said  to  have  destroyed  through 
jealousy  of  their  predecessors'  fame.  In  their  turn  the  Aztecs  were  themselves 
the  victims  of  the  iconoclastic  zeal  of  their  conquerors,  who  burnt  nearly  all  the 
older  documents.  Most  of  the  extant  manuscripts  date  only  from  the  end  of  the 
sixteenth  century,  a  period  when  the  Church,  already  reconciled  with  what 
remained  of  Nahua  civilisation,  permitted  the  faithful  again  to  practise  the 
traditional  hieroglyj)hic  system.  But  the  manuscrijjts  of  this  epoch  consist  mostly 
of  religious  confessions,  catechisms,  land  surveys,  and  judicial  endorsements. 

The  industrial  arts  were  highly  developed,  although  the  Nahuas  had  not 
reached  the  age  of  iron,  the  only  metals  known  to  them  being  gold,  silver,  copper, 
tin,  and  lead.  Very  thin  plates  of  copper  were  used  as  currency,  as  were  also 
cacao  berries  and  a  multitude  of  other  objects,  differing  in  every  province. 
Cutting  implements  were  made  of  an  alloy  of  copper  and  tin  nearly  as  hard  as 
steel.  Nevertheless,  nearly  all  their  weapons  were  still  made  of  hard  stone,  and 
especially  from  chippings  of  iztli,  or  obsidian.  Knives  of  this  substance  were  also 
employed  by  the  priests  for  immolating  human  victims. 

The  agricultural  implement  which  most  resembled  the  Eurojjean  plough 
consisted  of  a  wooden  apparatus  to  which  were  attached  hard-wood  sticks  tipped 
with  copper.  The  Spaniards  were  amazed  at  the  skill  of  the  native  lapidaries  and 
jewellers,  who  excelled  especially  in  carving  small  animals  and  insects.  According 
to  contemporary  chronicles,  the  European  goldsmiths  could  not  pretend  to  rival 
the  artificers  of  the  New  World  in  perfection  of  workmanship.  One  process  has 
certainly  been  lost,  that  of  making  little  hollow  figures  of  thin  gold  without  any 
soldering.  These  objects,  of  which  even  the  museums  contain  but  few  examples, 
seem  quite  inexplicable  to  the  European  craftsmen. 

Mexico  had  also  its  potters,  millers,  and  paper-makers.  The  various  plants  of 
the  cactus  family,  the  palms  and  cotton  trees,  yielded  their  fibres  for  weaving 
textile  fabrics,  some  of  which  were  extremely  delicate.  In  the  art  of  dyeing  the 
natives  were  also  past  masters,  employing  cochineal,  besides  a  large  number  of 
herbs,  barks,  and  fruits,  the  knowledge  of  which  has  been  lost  since  the  Spanish 
conquest ;  in  this  respect  Mexican  art  has  deteriorated  during  the  last  three 
centuries.  One  of  its  triumphs  was  the  application  of  feathers  to  the  adornment 
of  textiles,  garments,  tapestries,  and  coverlets.  This  feather  work,  which  has 
been  preserved  in  a  degraded  state  by  numerous  families  of  artists,  was  regarded 
as  one  of  the  liberal  arts.  The  "  council  of  music,"  a  sort  of  academy  founded 
to  encourage  art,  comprised  the  workers  in  feathers  amongst  its  members. 

Architecture  also  flourished  amongst  the  Nahuas,  whose  low,  solid  houses,  for 
the  most  part  only  one-storeyed,  rested  either  on  a  platform  or  on  piles.  The  towns 
were  regularly  planned  with  narrow  streets  running  at  right  angles  and  large 
spaces  round  the  temples  ;  they  were  abundantly  supplied  with  water  by  means  of 
aqueducts  and  reservoirs,  and  had  also  their  quaj's  and  embankments,  while  the 
rivers  were  crossed  by  suspension  bridges  made  of  lianas,  and  the  rivulets  by  stone 
causeways.  Some  of  the  cities  were  fortified,  and  the  great  wall,  six  miles  long, 
which  closed  the  highway,  leading  through  a  defile,  to  the  republic  of  Tlaxcala, 

F  2 


•was  pierced  by  an  ingeniously  constructed  gateway  terminating  in  a  parapet, 
behind  wliich  its  defenders  could  keep  under  cover. 

But  the  chief  architectural  works  of  the  Nahuas  were  the  temples  and 
pyramids,  such  as  those  of  Teotihuacan  and  Cholula  ;  these  with  the  strongholds  are 
the  only  structures  which  in  certain  places  have  survived  to  our  times,  though 
careful  exploration  has  revealed  a  few  traces  of  the  private  dwellings  formerlj'- 
occupied  by  the  Mexicans.  The  religious  monuments  were  constructed  on  a  plan 
analogous  to  that  of  the  Babylonian  temples,  being  like  them  step  pj'ramids 
formed  by  a  series  of  rectangular  parallelepipeds,  superimposed  and  receding 
upwards ;  but  as  a  rule  the  American  were  proportionately  much  broader  at  the 
base  than  the  Asiatic  structures.  Some  were  of  prodigious  size,  a  proof  that 
human  labour  was  little  valued  on  the  Anahuac  plateaux. 

At  the  time  of  the  SiDanish  conquest  the  native  civilisation  was  already  on  the 
wane,  a  fact  recognised  by  the  people  themselves  when  speaking  of  the  Toltec  age 
as  the  flourishing  epoch  of  the  arts,  sciences,  and  industries.  Hemmed  in  on  all 
sides,  without  any  regular  communications  seawards,  and  relieved  from  the 
necessity  of  foreign  trade  by  the  great  variety  of  products  yielded  by  its  three 
superimposed  climatic  zones,  the  Aztec  world  had  been  reduced  to  live  on  its  own 
resources  ;  there  was  no  inflow  of  commodities,  no  interchange  of  thought  to 
renew  the  vital  forces ;  the  social  system  gradually  became  foul  and  stagnant,  like 
the  floodwaters  that  lodge  in  the  depressions  of  a  level  plain. 

Trade  was  doubtless  held  in  high  honour,  so  much  so  that  caravans  could 
traverse  the  land  without  danger  even  in  time  of  war ;  but  the  trafEc  was  always 
confined  to  the  beaten  tracks  affording  communication  between  the  plateau  and 
the  lower  zones  on  both  slopes.  Thus  shut  out  from  free  intercourse  with  distant 
countries,  Mexican  civilisation  was  unable  to  find  the  elements  of  renewed  life 
within  itself,  with  the  result  that  the  people  gradually  lost  all  spirit  of  enterprise, 
enslaved  by  traditional  and  increasingly  oppressive  formularies.  A  rigid  etiquette 
regulated  all  relations  between  the  classes,  and  society  became,  so  to  say,  petrified, 
while  public  worship  grew  more  and  more  atrocious. 

Yet  at  its  origin  the  Mexican  religion  had  been  exempt  from  all  sanguinary 
rites.  The  first  of  the  gods,  bearing  the  name  of  Teotl,  in  a  pre-eminent  sense 
was  Atonatiuh,  the  "  Sun  of  the  Waters,"  whose  rays,  heating  the  seas,  caused  all 
things  to  rise  out  of  chaos.  Tlaloc,  issue  of  the  sun,  yearly  reviver  of  the  spring- 
tide, is  the  trade- wind  bearer  of  the  fertilising  rains,  the  bird  that  comes  from  the 
sea,  the  snake  that  glitters  in  the  lightning  flash,  and  glides  into  the  fissures  of 
the  earth,  emblem  of  the  running  waters. 

At  the  time  when  the  Aztecs  founded  Tenochtitlan,  the  memory  was  still 
preserved  of  a  mild  religion,  at  which  suiDpliants  offered  to  "  Father  Sun,"  to 
"Mother  Moon,"  to  "  Brother  Earth,  "  and  to  the  wind-god  nothing  but  seeds  and 
fruits,  to  obtain  a  blessing  on  the  future  crops.  Hopes  were  even  cherished  that, 
in  a  coming  age  of  gold,  these  placid  rites  might  yet  be  restored ;  at  least  they 
were  associated  with  the  advent  of  another  Tlaloc,  Quetzacoatl,  the  "Plumed 
Serpent,"  who  comes  from  the  east  with  the  east  wind  and  thither  returns. 



Many  of  the  vanquished  nations,  such  as  that  of  the  Totonacs,  groaned  under 
the  burden  of  having  to  supply  human  victims  to  the  Mexican  gods,  ■while  their 
own  divinitv,  "  Mother  of  Men,"  demanded  only  seeds  and  flowers.  Even  in  the 
Aztec  temple  of  Texcoco,  raised  by  Xezahualcoyotl  to  the  "  unknown  god,"  public 
worship  was  confined  to  the  burning  of  incense  at  the  altar  of  the  deity.  But 
elsewhere  wars,  and  the  practice  of  adding  captives  to  the  other  offerings,  had 

Fig.  2S.— AKnnciAL  PrsAinD  of  Cholttla. 

gradually  imposed  a  religion  of  blood  on  the  whole  Xahua  nation.  !Xot  the 
symbol  of  life,  represented  by  the  first-fruits  of  the  earth,  but  life  itself  has  now  to 
be  incessantly  offered  on  the  altars  of  the  gods.  Even  when  corn  was  presented 
it  had  first  to  be  reduced  to  a  paste,  kneaded  with  the  blood  of  children  and 
maidens  ;  a  dough  was  also  prepared  from  the  ashes  of  the  fathers  mingled  with 
the  flesh  of  their  offspring. 

To  appease  the  wrath  of  the  wicked  gods,  to  avert  the  evil  machinations  of  the 


unseen  world,  the  Mexicans  had  recourse  to  sacrifices,  in  this  differing  in  no  way 
from  Aryans,  Semites,  Negroes,  and  all  other  races.  But  their  saiiguinary  rites 
probably  surpassed  in  horror  those  even  of  Dahomey  itself.  Even  the  most  timid 
practised  self-torture  like  the  fakirs  of  the  East  and  the  Aissawas  of  Algeria ; 
they  scarified  their  flesh  with  the  cruel  maguey  thorn  ;  they  prolonged  their 
fastings  for  days  together  ;  they  abstained  from  sleep  till  the  mind  wandered. 

The  Benedictine  friar,  Camillo  de  Monserrate,  explained  the  dento-liquid  sounds 
tt,  etl,  which  seem  so  strange  to  most  European  ears,  by  the  Mexican  habit  of 
piercing  the  tongue  with  large  cactus  thorns  during  their  fits  of  religious  frenzy  ; 
thus  he  supposed  might  have  been  produced  a  sort  of  stammering  which  became 
hereditary  in  the  course  of  ages. 

But  it  was  maiuly  by  proxy  that  they  sought  to  conjure  the  caprice  of  the 
gods ;  the  stain  of  sin  was  vicariously  cleansed  by  immolating  alien  victims.  In 
the  Old  World,  which  abounds  in  animals  of  all  kinds,  their  blood  was  usually 
regarded  as  sufiiciently  efiicacious.  But  on  the  Mexican  plateaux  there  was  little 
except  men  to  torture  and  mangle  in  honour  of  the  jealous  deities.  Human  hearts 
were  torn  from  the  still-warm  breast  by  the  gory  hands  of  priests,  and  held  up 
towards  the  invisible  spirits.  To  Tlaloc  were  immolated  sucklings  or  children 
killed  with  fright,  and  their  flesh  was  then  consumed  by  the  nobles  at  a  religious 
banquet.  The  necropolis  of  Tenenepanco,  discovered  by  Charnay,  at  an  altitude  of 
over  13,000  feet,  on  the  northern  slopes  of  Popocatepetl,  contained  nothing  but  the 
remains  of  hundreds  of  children,  probably  the  victims  offered  to  Tlaloc,  god  of  the 
lofty  heights,  whence  descend  the  winds  and  the  clouds. 

At  the  great  ceremonies,  blood  was  shed  in  torrents  to  flood  the  trenches  dug 
round  the  teocaUi,  that  is,  the  temples,  literally  "God's  house."  Towards  the 
close  of  the  fifteenth  century,  at  the  consecration  of  the  great  temple  of  Mexico  to 
Huitziloputzli,  the  war-god,  which  had  been  begun  by  his  predecessor  Tizoc,  King 
Ahuizotl  immolated  nearly  eighty  thousand  captives.  But  despite  the  statement 
of  the  chronicles,  this  tremendous  butchery  must  have  been  made,  not  on  one 
occasion,  but  at  numerous  successive  ceremonies,  as  has  been  shown  by  Charnay. 

Each  sovereign,  on  ascending  the  throne,  had  to  begin  his  reign  by  a  vast 
man-hunting  expedition,  in  order  to  provide  food  for  all  the  sacred  shambles ; 
each  of  the  eighteen  months  of  the  year  had  to  be  blessed  by  a  massacre.  Accord- 
ingly "  holy  wars  "  had  been  formerly  established  by  treaty  between  the  various 
states  in  order  to  secure  sufiicient  victims  for  the  altars. 

Every  temple  washed  its  foundations  in  the  blood  of  captives  mingled  with 
offerings  of  the  precious  metals,  of  pearls  and  the  seeds  of  all  useful  plants.  These 
temples,  stained  with  black  gore,  full  of  human  flesh,  fresh,  charred  or  decomposed, 
presented  a  ghastly  spectacle ;  some  were  entered  through  a  door  in  the  form  of  a 
throat,  in  which  thousands  of  skulls  lined  the  jaws  of  the  monster.  Close  by  rose 
pyramids,  "  each  containing  over  a  hundred  thousand  skulls." 

One  of  the  yearly  feasts  was  that  of  the  "  flaying,"  when  the  priests  traversed  the 
various  quarters  of  the  city  clad  in  the  dripping  skins  of  the  victims.  But  the 
very  multitude  of  the  offerings  rendered  the  gods  insatiable,  and  their  wretched 



devotees  sought  for  still  nobler  subjects  to  propitiate  tbem.  In  the  Christian 
religion,  a  Son  of  God,  God  Himself,  expiated  the  sins  of  the  elect  on  the  cross ; 
but  those  who  crucified  Him  vreve  at  least  unconscious  of  His  divinity.  The 
ilexicans,  on  the  contrary,  created  gods  to  immolate  them  to  still  more  powerful 
deities.  During  the  great  national  ceremonies,  a  scion  of  the  royal  house  would 
not  have  satisfied  them ;  they  required  a  son  of  God,  and  the  young  men  whom 
they  offered  up  were  raised  by  them  to  the  divine  rank.  Before  slaying  these 
gods  incarnate,  the  priests  followed  in  the  triumphal  procession,  falling  down  in 
worship  before  them.  Then,  after  the  sacrifice,  those  who  tasted  of  the  sacred 
flesh,  and  who  "  ate  god,"  as  indicated  by  the  very  name  of  the  feast,  assimilated 
the  divine  substance,  and  thought  they  thus  became  participators  in  the  nature  of 
the  gods.  Such  was  the  hideous  form  that  "  god-eating"  had  assumed  in  Mexico. 
Such  religious  practices  were  naturally  completed  by  a  ferocious  legislation, 

yet  the  people  seem  to  have  been  of  an  extremely  kind  disposition,  mild  and 
affectionate.  "  My  dear  son,  my  jewel,  my  fair  feather !  "  thus  spoke  the 
mother  to  her  child.  According  to  Ixtlixochitl,  a  theft  exceeding  in  value  seven 
maize  cobs  was  pimished  with  death.  For  whole  commtmities,  a  violent  seemed 
far  more  probable  than  a  natural  ending ;  this  alone  would  sufficiently  explain  the 
sense  of  sadness  that  had  fallen  on  this  unhappy  nation,  from  which  the  divine 
favour  seemed  to  be  withdrawn  in  inverse  ratio  to  the  number  of  their  victims. 

The  emperor  Xezahualcoyotl,  sovereign  of  Texcoco,  the  crowned  poet,  who 
staked  his  throne  on  a  throw  of  dice,  to  show  how  little  he  cared  for  power,  this 
emperor  expressed  the  tmiversal  sentiment  when  he  depicted  "the  approaching 
day  when  the  gloomy  fate,  the  great  destroyer  will  be  revealed."  Even  the 
Spanish  conquest,  with  the  massacres  and  other  scourges  which  accompanied  it, 
and  the  servitude  by  which  it  was  followed,  was  a  relief  for  the  nations  of  Anahuac  j 


it  rescued  them  from  a  hopeless  fatalism ;  it  introduced  them,  though  douhtless 
through  a  thorny  path,  into  the  new  world  of  common  human  interests. 

This  era  of  transformation  began  in  a  terrible  way  for  the  populations  of 
Anahuac.  The  Spanish  conquerors  acted  in  Mexico  as  they  had  acted  in  the 
Antilles  ;  they  massacred  the  natives  that  resisted,  and  reduced  the  survivors  to  a 
state  of  merciless  slavery.  "  A  long  experience,"  said  Peter  Martyr  Anghiera, 
"  has  shown  the  necessity  of  depriving  these  men  of  freedom  and  giving  them 
guides  and  protectors."  Thanks  to  these  "protectors,"  whole  provinces  were 
nearly  depopulated  in  a  single  generation.  The  siege  of  Mexico,  "  where  men 
were  numerous  as  the  stars  of  heaven  and  the  sands  of  the  seashore,"  is  said  to 
have  cost  the  lives  of  150,000  persons ;  and  according  to  Pimentel,  the  native 
population  of  Nueva  Galicia,  which  has  become  the  present  state  of  Jalisco,  was 
rapidly  reduced  from  450,000  to  12,600. 

In  the  swift  work  of  conquest  and  enslavement,  the  Spaniards  were  aided  by 
the  very  apathy  of  the  wretched  inhabitants  themselves.  The  conquered  multi- 
tudes, whom  their  former  masters  had  crushed  beneath  an  intolerable  burden  of 
oppressive  laws  and  statute  labour,  seemed  indifferent  to  a  change  of  tyrants. 
They  even  found  it  easier  to  bend  the  neck  to  the  yoke  of  the  demi-gods  armed 
with  thunder,  than  to  rulers  of  their  own  race. 

The  change,  or  at  least  apparent  change  of  religion  which  went  on,  so  to  say, 
simultaneously  with  the  conquest,  was  also  effected  without  difScxilty.  When 
the  Franciscan  Friars,  soon  followed  by  the  Dominicans  and  Augustinians,  offered 
to  the  Mexican  populations  the  baptism  that  cleanseth  from  sin,  a  rite  which 
in  any  case  scarcely  differed  from  the  analogous  purifications  of  the  Aztec  religion, 
the  surprising  success  of  their  propaganda  is  not  to  be  exclusively  attributed  to 
their  prestige  'as  conquerors,  or  to  the  support  which  they  received  from  the  secular 
arm.  Allowance  shoidd  doubtless  also  be  made  for  the  happiness  of  being  at  last 
released  from  the  terrorism  that  the  native  religions  had  imposed  on  the  people. 

Toribio  de  Benavente  relates  that  nine  million  Indians  were  baptised  during 
the  fifteen  first  years  that  followed  the  conquest.  The  priests  found  themselves 
surrounded  by  hundreds  of  kneeling  suppliants,  and  such  was  the  eagerness  of  the 
candidates  "  suffering  from  the  thirst  of  baptism,"  that  the  oificiating  clergy  lacked 
the  time  to  perform  the  prescribed  ceremonies,  and  satisfied  themselves  with 
moistening  the  brow  of  the  neophytes  with  a  little  saliva.  The  names  of  saints 
supplied  by  the  calendar  no  longer  sufficing,  the  Indians  were  grouped  in  batches 
each  of  which  received  collectively  the  same  name. 

Apart  from  the  sanguinary  rites  the  two  religions  differed  so  little  in  their 
outward  forms  that  the  natives  felt  little  difficulty  in  conforming  to  both.  When 
called  iipon  to  overthrow  their  idols,  and  rejjlace  them,  in  the  same  temples  and  on 
the  same  sites,  with  the  statue  of  the  Madonna  and  her  Child,  the  caciques  had 
merely  to  set  up  the  image  of  Tecleciguata,  the  "  Great  Lady,"  and  the  change 
was  effected.  But  no  crucifix  was  erected,  says  the  Dominican  monk,  Eemesal, 
"because  the  Spaniards,  claiming  immortality  for  themselves,  were  reluctant  to 
teach  the  neophytes  that  their  God  could  die." 


Multitudes  accepted  baptism  without  any  intention  of  abandoning  tbeir  old 
rites,  and  continued  long  to  celebrate  the  pagan  mysteries  in  the  depths  of  the 
forests.  Thus  a  chapel  was  built  and  a  cross  set  up  immediately  above  the  spot 
where  had  been  hidden  the  proscribed  image  of  an  idol.  TVhen  boM^ing  before 
the  cross  it  was  to  the  god  that  they  addressed  their  invocations. 

But  by  force  of  habit  the  two  cults  became  gradually  merged  in  one  ;  at  present 
when  any  of  the  old  idols  happen  to  be  disinterred,  it  is  in  perfect  good  faith  that 
the  natives  call  them  sanfos  antiguos,  "  old  saints."  The  same  pious  souls  that 
crowd  the  Christian  churches  and  devoutlj^  kiss  the  relics  of  the  martyrs,  secretly 
assemble  in  the  woods  to  crown  the  images  of  the  former  deities  with  garlands. 

But  the  conversions,  in  virtue  of  which  they  could  claim  to  be  the  spiritual 
brethren  of  the  "  Christians,"  that  is,  of  the  Spaniards,  did  not  raise  the  natives  to 
a  position  of  equality  with  their  conquerors.  In  the  converts  the  latter  at  first 
saw  only  inferior  beings,  useful  especially  when  dead,  as  their  fat  then  served  to 
staunch  the  wounds  of  men  and  horses.  They  addressed  the  natives  whip  in  band, 
and  even  in  the  lifetime  of  Bernal  Diaz  a  new  saj'ing  had  become  current  amongst 
the  whites :  "  Donde  nace  el  Indio  nace  el  hejuco !  "  or,  as  we  might  say,  "  Where  the 
Indian  is  born  there  grows  the  cane."  Even  in  recent  times  the  poet  Galvan 
could  exclaim :  "  I  am  an  Indian,  that  is,  a  worm  cowering  in  the  grass,  avoided 
b}^  all  hands,  crushed  by  all  feet."  Accordingly  the  children  of  the  Aztecs  may 
well  have  more  than  once  sighed  for  the  old  order  of  things.  "  Why  were  we 
happier  in  the  days  of  barbarism  and  debasement  than  since  our  conversion  to  your 
faith  ?  "  the  elders  of  a  native  community  asked  Bishop  Zumarraga. 

The  period  immediately  following  the  conquest  was  the  most  terrible  for  the 
natives.  At  first  some  districts  were  transformed  almost  to  solitudes  by  those 
maladies  which  nearly  always  break  out  when  distinct  races  are  brought  suddenly 
into  contact.  The  first  epidemic  of  smallpox,  said  to  have  been  introduced 
by  a  negro  in  the  expedition  of  Narvaez,  and  which  struck  down  Cuitlahuatzin, 
Montezuma's  successor,  was  more  destriictive  than  the  SjDanish  arms. 

But  far  more  terrible  was  the  matlazahuatl,  probably  scarlet  fever,  which  raged 
in  1576,  and  which,  according  to  Torquemada,  carried  o£E  nearly  two  millions  in  the 
dioceses  of  Mexico,  Michoacan,  Puebla  and  Oaxaca.  In  a  period  of  two  hundred 
and  seventy-five  years  as  many  as  seventeen  great  epidemics  visited  Mexico,  from 
all  of  which  the  Spaniards  remained  exempt.  According  to  the  missionaries  the 
race  itself  seemed  to  have  become  physically  decayed,  as  if  doomed  to  extinction. 

Those  who  escaped  the  plague  were  more  than  decimated  by  the  oppressive 
burdens  imposed  on  them.  Although  protected  from  slavery  properly  so  called  by 
the  "  laws  of  the  Indies,"  they  still  remained  serfs  attached  to  the  soil,  and  thus 
fell  in  tens  of  thousands  with  the  large  estates  into  the  hands  of  the  religious 
orders  by  which  they  had  been  converted,  or  else  into  those  of  the  great  capitalists 
the  responsibility  of  the  proprietors  being  in  all  cases  merely  a  legal  fiction.  I^or 
were  the  laws  themselves  enforced,  for  the  province  of  Panuco  was  nearly  depopu- 
lated by  its  own  governor,  Nufio  de  Guzman,  who  openly  sold  men  and  women  to 
the  traders  from  the  Antilles,  after  first  branding  them  with  the  hot  iron. 



Under  the  Aztec  regime  tlie  lack  of  pack  animals  had  introduced  the  custom  of 
making  captives  and  outcasts  tlamcmes,  or  carriers,  for  the  transport  of  goods  and 
supplies.  This  service  the}'  continued  to  perform  under  the  Spanish  administration, 
though  the  law  fixing  the  load  at  "  two  arrobas,"  or  about  sixty  pounds,  was  too 
often  violated.  The  landed  proprietors,  more  ignorant  than  the  natives  of  the 
climatic  conditions,  often  employed  bands  of  porters  in  zones  where  the  tempera- 
ture was  fatal ;  those  descending  from  the  plateaux  perished  in  thousands  on  the 
hot  coastlands,  while  others,  transferred  to  the  bleak  uplands,  yielded  to  the  cold. 

But  while  the  race  of  aborigines  was  rapidly  diminishing  and  even  disappear- 
ing in  certain  districts,  another  race,  that  of  the  Mestizoes,  was  being  developed 
and  acquiring  over-increasing  imi^ortance.  The  conquerors,  having  brought  no 
women  with  them,  soon  formed  alliances   with  the  natives,  Cortes  setting  the 

Fig.  30. — FlEST  CoNaUESTS  OF  COETES. 
Scale  1  :  4,000,000. 

.«o™.«„       'J-^jlA.     ^^A^  k-M,^      ^    \^ 


^t^Vgf.^-    -^.^4te.„-    ^,./..^v. 

/  ) 


60  Miles.; 

example  by  his  connection  with  Malitzin  or  Dona  Marina,  who  proved  so  useful 
in  times  of  extreme  peril.  All  his  captains  and  soldiers  were  presented  with 
native  wives ;  all  Indian  chiefs,  whether  pleading  for  favour  or  concluding  an 
alliance,  sealed  the  treaty  by  cementing  unions  between  the  new  arrivals  and  the 
women  of  his  household  or  kindred ;  every  tribe  suing  for  peace  brought  women 
as  presents  for  the  conquerors. 

Even  after  the  conquest  the  adventurers  and  traders  attracted  to  the  New 
World  by  the  fame  of  the  treasures  of  Mexico  were  seldom  accompanied  by 
Spanish  helpmates ;  hence  most  of  the  unions  continued  to  be  made  with  native 
women,  despite  the  decrees  which  declared  null  and  void  all  grants  of  land  made 
to  whites  who  left  their  wives  behind  them.  Thus  the  Mestizoes  continued  rapidly 
to  increase,  and  soon  outnumbered  the  Spaniards. 

In  ordinary  language  this  term  "  Mestizo  "  indicates  rather  the  class  than  the 
origin,  and  is  applied  exclusively  to  the  proletariates  who  do  not  keep  aloof  from 





















/-• ». 



•.N     •• 






•'/  -'.'.v  •'*•  '  V.\x  *    •/  '.'.•.^ 



•  •  •     B  •  ■ 

'MM      A^ 

i    •  •  •*  »•  ••• 









It  should  be  noticed  that  the  transitions  between  Spaniards  and  Mestizoes, 
between  Mestizoes  and  Manses,  are  far  less  abrupt  about  the  capital  than  in  the 
northern  regions,  where  the  populations  are  scattered  over  a  much  wider  area, 

Kg.  31. — Poet  of  SisuANTAifEO. 
Scale  1  :  42,000. 


Wesr  0  F  Gfe enAficK 


0  to5 


5  to  10 


10  to  25 

25  Fatlioms 
and  upwards. 

.  2,200  Yards. 

and  where  the  divisions  between  the  races  are  more  sharply  drawn.  In  those 
regions  miscegenation  has  taken  place  to  a  smaller  extent ;  till  recently  the 
struggle  between  the  hostile  elements  was  still  continued,  and  was  occasionally 
attended  by  massacres  on  both  sides. 

THE  spa:^ish  administration.  77 

The  exclusive  mercantile  system  to  wLich  the  country  was  subjected  during 
the  Spanish  rule  had  the  effect,  so  to  say,  of  sequestrating  New  Spain,  and  of 
concealing  from  the  eyes  of  the  world  the  changes  that  had  been  accomplished 
sLace  the  daj-s  of  the  conquest.  It  was  ia  fact  a  system  of  absolute  monopoly. 
From  the  standpoint  of  the  Spanish  Government,  the  Aztec  populations  existed 
only  for  the  purpose  of  eni'iching  the  treasury  and  the  commercial  "  farmers- 
general."  But  these  vast  monopolies,  and  the  incessant  manipulation  of  the 
customs,  combined  with  the  oppression  and  empoverishment  of  the  natives, 
natui'ally  resulted  in.  exhausting  the  sources  of  all  trade. 

All  violation  of  the  fiscal  laws  was  severely  punished,  and  often  involved  the 
death  of  the  offender.  All  trading  relations  with  strangers  were  interdicted 
under  pain  of  death ;  even  shipwrecked  mariners  were  thrown  into  prison,  and 
occasionally  even  executed,  to  prevent  them  from  entering  iuto  commercial 
relations  with  the  natives ;  the  very  highways  leading  seawards  were  systematic- 
ally abandoned,  and  the  Mexican  seaboard  became  a  wilderness.  Thus  the 
EngKsh  navigator,  George  Anson,  warned  by  the  Indians  of  the  neighboui-hood, 
was  able  to  put  into  the  port  of  Siguantaneo  (Zehuatanejo),  between  the  two 
hostile  garrisons  of  Zacatula  and  Acapulco,  and  wait  quietly  for  the  sailing  of 
the  valuable  galleon  freighted  with  ingots  for  Manilla. 

The  system  was  at  last  pushed  so  far  that  the  fleet  destined  for  Spain  was  only 
allowed  to  sail  every  third  j'ear,  and  to  make  for  any  other  port  but  Seville  or 
Cadiz  was  declared  to  be  a  crime  against  the  State.  The  search  for  quicksilver 
mines  was  prohibited  in  order  to  maintain  the  monopoly  of  the  Almaden  mines  in 
the  south  of  Spain.  TiU  the  year  1803,  the  Mexicans  were  forbidden  to  cultivate 
the  vine  ;  it  has  even  been  asserted  that  Hidalgo  first  raised  the  standard  of  revolt 
in  the  Dolores  district,  because  this  revolutionary  parish  priest  had  been  compelled 
to  destroj'  his  vineyards.  The  olive  was  also  interdicted,  as  well  as  many  other 
plants  whose  products  might  replace  those  introduced  from  Spain ;  even  these 
were  imported  only  in  small  quantities  to  keep  up  the  tariff  of  high  prices. 

At  one  time  the  people  were  forbidden  to  brew  any  more  pulque,  the  national 
drink  extracted  from  the  maguey  plant,  the  sale  of  which  interfered  with  that  of  the 
Catalanian  brandies.  In  the  same  way  certain  trades  were  officially  abolished  as 
being  prejudicial  to  the  national  industries  of  the  Peninsula,  or  rather  to  the 
interest  of  a  few  private  speculators.  Even  so  late  as  1819  a  royal  decree  pro- 
hibited foreign  vessels  from  entering  the  port  of  Yera  Cruz  "  under  any  pretext." 

Such  an  administration  could  end  only  in  the  total  ruin  of  the  colony,  or  in  a 
revolution.  The  moment  the  mother  coimtry  became  engaged  in  a  war  of  inde- 
pendence against  the  French,  and  was  thus  obliged  to  leave  her  ultramarine  posses- 
sions almost  entirely  to  themselves,  a  change  of  the  political  equilibrium  became 
inevitable.  The  imprisonment  of  the  Si^anish  Viceroy,  Itturigara}',  in  1806,  by 
the  other  members  of  the  State  Council,  may  be  said  to  have  been  the  first  act  in 
the  Mexican  Revolution. 

Doubtless  the  Creoles  were  far  from  being  unanimous  in  their  opposition  to  the 
old  order  of  things,  and  many  even  allowed  themselves   to  be  seduced  by  titles. 


privileges,  or  money.  But  they  entertained  the  most  divergent  views  on  the 
general  situation.  The  more  daring  ventured  to  foster  the  idea  of  independence, 
which  to  others  seemed  a  dream,  while  the  majority  aspired  to  nothing  higher 
than  a  share  in  the  administration  of  their  native  land,  and  the  abolition  of  the 
absolute  commercial  monopoly  enjoyed  by  the  Cadiz  traders. 

On  the  other  hand  the  great  bulk  of  the  native  poioulation  felt  little  interest 
in  the  form  of  government.  What  they  wanted  was  the  possession  of  the  land,  a 
little  light  to  relieve  their  gloomy  lives,  a  modest  share  of  liberty.  Under  the 
Sjianish  regime  they  had  never  attempted  to  revolt,  although  for  two  hundred  years 
after  the  conquest  the  armed  forces  consisted  only  of  the  Viceroy's  bodyguard  ;  even 
under  the  Bourbon  dynasty  the  "  greens  " — as  the  regular  troops  were  called,  from 
the  green  facings  of  their  uniforms — never  exceeded  6,000  infantry  and  cavalry. 

Nevertheless  the  Indians  themselves  had  also  a  vague  instinct  of  political  inde- 
pendence, as  is  evident  from  the  persistent  legend  about  King  Montezuma.  The 
name  itself  they  obviously  learnt  from  the  Spaniards  ;  but  they  eagerly  rallied 
round  it  as  a  watchword,  and  adopted  his  colours,  blue  and  white,  for  their 
standard  of  battle.  To  him  were  attributed  all  the  ruined  monuments  of  the 
country,  and  it  was  said  that,  like  a  second  Quetzalcoatl,  he  slept  in  some  cavern 
awaiting  the  great  day  of  national  awakening.  We  know  with  what  fury  the 
natives  fought  during  the  early  days  of  the  revolution.  Impelled  by  the  frenzy 
of  certain  triumph,  armed  with  nothing  but  clubs  or  knives,  they  fell  upon  solid 
regiments  of  well-equipped  troops ;  they  even  threw  themselves  on  the  guns  in 
order  to  stop  the  touch-holes  with  their  rags  or  straw  hats. 

Such  was  the  confusion  of  ideas  and  of  factions  caused  by  the  prevailing 
ignorance,  and  the  long  debasement  of  the  populations,  that  the  revolution  began 
by  a  rising  of  some  fanatical  Indians  of  Dolores,  "  in  the  name  of  the  holy  reli- 
gion and  of  the  good  King  Ferdinand  VII."  On  the  other  hand  the  insurgents 
suffered  their  iirst  defeat  by  troops  composed  of  Creoles  and  led  by  a  Creole. 

In  1813,  two  years  after  the  first  conflict,  independence  was  for  the  first  time 
proclaimed  by  a  congress  of  refugees  wandering  from  mountain  to  mountain. 
But  this  voice  of  freedom  sounded  like  blasphemy  to  those  accustomed  to  servitude, 
and  the  moderate  party  hastened  to  return  to  obedience.  No  Indians  in  the  more 
remote  provinces  had  risen,  and  the  seat  of  war  had  hitherto  been  confined  to  the 
central  districts,  which  were  more  densely  peopled  than  elsewhere.  The  insur- 
gents no  longer  formed  regular  armies,  and  had  been  reduced  to  mere  guerilla 
bands  ;  nearly  all  their  prominent  leaders  had  been  shot,  or  were  lurking  in  the 
woods  and  marshes  ;  all  seemed  lost  when,  in  1817,  Mina,  a  Spaniard  twenty-eight 
years  of  age,  who  had  already  fought  bravely  for  freedom  in  Spain,  crossed  the  seas 
and  devoted  himself  to  the  same  cause  in  llexico  against  his  own  fellow-countrymen. 

But  after  gaining  a  few  victories  he  also  perished,  and  the  struggle  for  inde- 
pendence, so  fiercely  begun  in  1811  by  the  priest  Hidalgo  and  his  extemporised 
armies,  was  reduced  to  a  handful  of  outlaws  and  brigands.  Nevertheless  the  old 
regime  suddenly  fell  with  a  crash,  so  to  say,  under  its  own  weight  at  the  very 
time  when  the  Viceroy  Apodaca  was  proclaiming  the  final  restoration  of  order  in 




1820,  and  when  the  victorioiis  Spamsh  forces  were  sweeping  the  last  "  herds  "  of 
rebels  before  them.  To  effect  the  transformation  all  that  was  needed  was  the 
treason  of  the  ambitious  Colonel  Iturbide,  in  whom  destiny  "  selected  the  least 
worthy  to  be  the  successftJ  champion  of  independence." 

Kg.  32. — SCESE  OF  THE  TVaE  OF   LsDZPEXllESCE. 
Scale  1  :  11,I>X>,0». 

ihu.  ^N^V'V    WWi^J^:. 

\test  o""    bi-eenvv^c^ 

1S6  Miles. 

Now  the  whole  nation  enthusiastically  adopted  the  "  plan  of  Iguala,"  that  is 
to  say,  the  project  of  a  new  constitution  proposed  in  the  town  of  Iguala,  de- 
manding full  and  complete  autonomy  for  the  Mexican  people  under  a  monarchical 
form  of  government.  The  new  order  of  things  was  accepted  throughout  the 
whole  extent  of  the  land,  and  the  capital  itself  was  suiTendered  by  O'Donoju, 


last  of  the  viceroys.  This  was  in  1821,  and  two  years  later  the  republic  was  at 
last  proclaimed. 

The  vcrj'-  term  Guadalupcs  given  to  the  insurgents  in  opposition  to  that  of 
Gachupines,  by  which  the  Spaniards  were  known,  is  a  pioof  of  the  influence  exer- 
cised by  the  clergy  over  the  bulk  of  the  Mexican  population.  The  multitudes  of 
native  rebels  were  regarded  merely  as  devout  pilgrims  enrolled  under  the  banner 
of  the  Madonna  of  Guadalupe,  whose  worship  had  been  confounded  with  that  of 
Toci  or  Tonantzin,  the  "  Notre-Dame  "  of  the  Aztecs. 

But  the  priests,  like  the  other  whites,  were  themselves  divided  into  factions 
according  to  their  origin,  alliances,  wealth  or  poverty.  Hidalgo,  who  first  raised 
the  standard  of  revolt,  was  a  Creole  priest  with  a  mixture  of  Indian  blood.  Morelos, 
another  priest,  was  the  chief  hero  of  the  war  on  the  side  of  the  national  party. 
Even  a  nun,  Maria  Quitana,  was  seen  to  leave  the  convent  and  take  part  in  the 
struggle.  But  bishops  and  the  officers  of  the  Inquisition  had  in  the  name  of  the 
Pope  hurled  excommunications  against  the  rebels,  and  it  was  in  honour  of  the 
Church  that  on  Good  Friday  in  1814,  Iturbide,  at  that  time  in  the  service  of  Spain, 
caused  several  of  these  excommunicated  patriots  to  be  shot. 

Hence  the  clergy  were  unable  to  contribute  towards  fostering  such  a  common 
national  sentiment  as  might  have  ensured  internal  peace.  On  the  other  hand  the 
political  revolution  was  of  no  service  in  improving  the  condition  of  the  native 
peasantry,  for  it  made  no  change  in  the  system  of  land  tenure.  The  soil  still  con- 
tinued, as  heretofore,  to  be  monopolised  by  the  great  proprietors,  whose  power 
was  exercised  over  hundreds  or  thousands  of  the  agricultural  jDopulation.  Doubt- 
less an  agrarian  revolution  seemed  imminent  at  the  very  outset  of  the  insurrection, 
when  the  domains  of  the  Spaniards  were  sequestrated  in  the  name  of  the  nation, 
and  were  freely  occupied  by  the  Indians.  But  the  whites  forming  part  of  the 
rebel  forces  hastened  to  put  a  stop  to  these  confiscations,  which  might  have  had 
fatal  consequences,  and  the  elements  of  the  social  struggle  were  thus  maintained  on 
the  same  lines  as  before. 

These  profound  inequalities,  which  largely  coincide  with  racial  distinctions, 
sufficiently  explain  the  state  of  chronic  revolution  which  was  the  normal  condition 
of  Mexico  for  the  half-century  following  the  proclamation  of  independence.  The 
nation  sought  without  finding  some  new  principle  of  economic  equilibrium.  By  a 
curious  parallelism  each  civil  war  corresponded  to  a  fresh  outbreak  both  in  Spain 
itself  and  in  her  other  revolted  colonies,  as  if  the  dismembered  branches  of  the  old 
empire  were  still  connected  by  a  common  social  life. 

In  Mexico  the  accomplishment  of  national  imity  is  aU  the  more  difficult  that  a 
considerable  section  of  the  Indians  are  associated  with  the  civilised  populations 
only  in  terms  of  official  documents.  None  of  the  natives  still  grouped  in  tribes 
living  apart  in  remote  provinces,  speaking  the  old  languages,  and  practising  the  old 
customs,  can  be  regarded  as  yet  forming  part  of  the  Mexican  nation.  But  they 
become  assimilated  in  increasing  numbers  from  year  to  year,  thanks  to  the  develop- 
ment of  education,  industrial  centres  and  highways  traversing  their  territory. 
Even  the  Indians  of  the  Califoruian  peninsula  who  are  most  removed  from  the 


centre  of  Mexican  civilisation  have  acquired  a  knowledge  of  Spanish,  and  those 
settled  in  the  vicinitj"  of  the  missions  and  the  mining  stations  differ  in  no  respects 
from  the  Indios  inansos  in  other  parts  of  the  territory.  But  they  are  a  mere  handful, 
scarcely  mustering  3,000  altogether,  and  the  Pericu  tribe,  recently  mentioned  as 
still  living  at  the  southern  extremity  of  the  peninsula,  has  completely  disappeared. 
The  other  two  who  still  survive,  Cochimi  in  the  north,  and  Guaicuri  (Guayacura) 
in  the  middle,  of  the  peninsula,  are  related  to  the  Arizonian  Yumas,  and,  like  them, 
formerly  occupied  the  northern  plains  which  are  now  inhabited  by  the  Cocopas, 
and  from  which  they  were  gradually  driven  west  of  the  Colorado. 

Both  Cochimi  and  the  Guaicuri  lead  an  extremely  nomad  existence,  shifting  their 
camping  grounds  at  least  a  hundred  times  during  the  year.  At  night  they  shelter 
themselves  against  the  wind  under  some  brushwood  or  line  of  rocks,  but  their  only 
roof  is  the  canopy  of  heaven,  though  a  few  dens  or  lairs  are  constructed  for  their 
sick.  Formerly  the  Cochimi  regarded  with  shame  any  kind  of  raiment ;  but  they 
wore  necklaces  and  bracelets,  and  encircled  the  head  with  an  arrangement  of  skins, 
reeds,  or  feathers. 

The  Cochimi  and  all  other  tribes  of  Lower  California  are  grouped  by  Pimentel 
with  the  Xahua  family,  that  is,  with  the  Aztecs,  on  the  ground  of  their  physical 
appearance  and  speech.  But  other  authorities  hold  that  the  Lower  Californian 
languages  show  no  resemblance  to  Aztec  or  any  other  known  language. 

Nearly  all  the  Indians  occupying  the  north-western  region  of  ^Mexico,  from  the 
Arizonian  frontier  to  the  moimtains  skirting  the  right  bank  of  the  Eio  Lerma, 
belong  to  a  widespread  family  commonly  named  from  the  Pimas  and  the  Opatas, 
two  of  their  most  powerful  groups.  The  term  Pimeria,  or  "  Pima-land,"  is  even 
still,  though  incorrectly,  applied  to  the  north  part  of  Sonora.  The  conventional 
frontier  laid  down  between  the  American  and  llexican  republics  is  not  an  ethnical 
parting-line,  and  north  of  it  the  Pimas  and  the  kindred  Papagosare,  in  fact,  repre- 
sented in  the  largest  numbers. 

The  Opatas  also,  who  are  said  still  to  number  35,000  souls,  dwell  especially  in 
the  Sierra  iladre  in  the  upland  valleys  of  the  Sonora  and  Taqtii  rivers.  They  are 
an  agricultural  people,  who  have  been  half  assimilated  to  the  Spaniards,  and  who 
have  always  sided  with  the  whites  in  the  racial  wars.  Hence  the  ilexican  writers 
have  always  praised  their  valotir,  sobriety  and  steadfastness,  and  have  given  them 
the  title  of  "  American  Spartans." 

The  Yaqui  and  ilayo  tribes,  who  occupy  the  east  side  of  the  Gulf  of  California, 
that  is,  the  almost  desert  regions  watered  by  the  two  rivers  named  from  them,  are 
fully  as  brave  as  the  Opatas,  but  they  are  no  friends  of  the  whites,  and  have  even 
frequently  risen  in  revolt.  In  1825,  after  the  proclamation  of  ilexican  indepen- 
dence, they  also  proclaimed  their  own  autonomy,  and  declared  themselves  exempt 
from  all  taxes.  Since  that  time  their  territory  has  remained  somewhat  inacces- 
sible to  strangers. 

Yet  the  Yaquis  and  Mayos,  who  are  sometimes  collectively  called  Cahitas  from 
their  common  language,  are  by  no  means  a  numerous  nation,  probably  not 
exceeding  20,000  altogether.     Despite  the  wars  they  have  had  to  wage   against 




the  whites,  they  are  naturally  of  a  peaceful  disposition,  energetic,  and  industrious. 
Like  the  Kabyles  of  Algeria,  their  young  men  emigrate  every  year  in  large 
numbers,  seeking  employment  in  the  farmsteads  of  Sonora  or  Sinaloa,  or  as 
porters  and  menials  in  the  towns.  But  they  still  remain  attached  to  their  homes, 
and  those  who  are  not  too  far  removed  make  an  annual  visit  to  their  native  valleys. 
They  are  said  to  be  excellent  musicians,  and,  like  the  Hungarian  gipsies,  learn  to 
play  the  fiddle,  guitar,  or  harp,  merely  by  listening  to  the  village  minstrels. 

The  Sori  people  of  Tiburon  Island  and  the  neighbouring  mainland  appear  to 
form  a  distinct  subdivision,  with  a  few  other  scattered  family  groups  known  by 
various  names.     Orozco  y  Berra  has  compared  them  with  the  Caribs,  adding  that 

'Fig.  33. — Chiep  Native  Poptjlationb  in  Mexico. 
Scale  1  :  30,000,onr). 


620  Miles. 

he  would  not  be  surprised  to  find  that  they  belong  to  the  same  race.  These 
natives,  who  are  now  reduced  to  a  mere  fragment,  defended  their  homes  and 
valleys  with  great  vigour ;  their  poisoned  arrows  especially  were  much  dreaded, 
and  Spanish  expeditions  had  often  carefully  to  avoid  their  territory. 

Amongst  the  numerous  north-western  populations  the  Tarahumaras,  or 
Tarumaros,  are  one  of  the  most  remarkable  for  the  tenacity  with  which  they  have 
preserved  their  ancient  customs.  The  inhabitants  of  Chihuahua  give  the  name  of 
Tarumaros  to  all  the  mansos,  or  "  civilised  "  Indians,  of  the  state ;  but  the  true 
Tarahumaras,  who  still  number  about  40,000,  live  in  seclusion  in  the  upland 
valleys  of  the  Sierra  Madre  on  both  the  Atlantic  and  Pacific  slopes.  Their 
villages,  most  of  which  end  in  the  syllable  c/«c — "place,"  "town" — are  scattered 
over  the  highland  region  of  the  three  states  of  Chihuahua,  Sonora,  and  Sinaloa, 
and  according  to  Pimentel  penetrate  even  into  Durango. 


Some  of  their  groups  are  still  cave-dwellers,  and  numerous  caverns  are  shown 
which  were  formerly  inhabited.  According  to  many  writers  the  old  troglodytic 
customs  explain  the  legend  of  the  Aztecs  regarding  their  residence  in  the  "  Seven 
Caves."  The  Tarahumaras  who  have  settled  in  the  towns  of  the  whites  now 
speak  the  language  of  their  rulers ;  but  the  full-blood  communities  of  the  Sierra 
Madre  have  preserved  their  old  tongue. 

Discovered  in  their  remote  retreats  by  the  Jesuit  missionaries  at  the  beginning 
of  the  seventeenth  century,  the  Tarahumaras  have  never  offered  any  serious 
opposition  to  the  Mexican  Government ;  nevertheless  they  have  always  refused  to 
accept  Spanish  institutions.  According  to  the  traditional  custom  marriages  are 
contracted  after  a  novitiate  of  the  bride  in  her  future  husband's  house  and  under 
the  surveillance  of  his  parents.  The  land  has  been  preserved  from  confiscation, 
and  is  still  held  in  common.  Each  group  of  villagers  is  collective  proprietor,  and, 
as  in  the  Russian  mir,  the  arable  land  is  parcelled  out  amongst  the  families 
according  to  their  numbers.  One  portion  is  reserved  for  the  sick  and  aged,  and 
this  is  cultivated  by  all  the  members  of  the  community  in  their  turn.  The  maize, 
wheat,  haricot  beans,  potatoes,  and  other  produce  are  then  stored  in  a  public 
granary  imder  the  eyes  of  the  more  honoured  men  and  women  of  the  village,  and 
the  residents  draw  what  they  require  from  this  common  store. 

They  call  themselves  "  Christians  "  and  erect  a  cross  at  the  foot  of  their  fields 
at  sowing  time ;  but  the  parish  priest  is  not  allowed  to  assist  at  the  feast,  which 
concludes  with  the  sacrifice  of  a  sheep  or  a  calf.  Those  of  the  southern  districts 
near  the  common  frontier  of  Chihuahua,  Sonora,  and  Sinaloa,  are  said  still  to 
practise  the  old  religion.  They  keep  entirely  aloof  from  the  Mexicans,  and  when 
their  villages  are  forcibly  invaded,  they  refuse  to  answer  the  questions  put  to  them 
by  the  intruders.  They  decline  all  payment  for  the  provisions  they  may  be  called 
upon  to  supply,  and  even  allow  their  cabins  to  be  plundered  without  protest ;  in 
fact  the  only  force  they  understand  is  that  of  passive  resistance. 

They  are  said  to  be  a  gloomy,  sullen  people ;  nevertheless  when  they  fear  no 
disturbance  to  the  national  feasts  they  amuse  themselves  cheerfully,  and  "  dance 
with  their  gods."  They  are  specially  fond  of  tilting  and  racing,  whence  their 
tribal  name,  which  is  said  to  mean  "  Runners,"  though  the  etjTnology  is  somewhat 
doubtful.  At  times  whole  tribes  spend  days  in  contending  for  the  prize,  women 
with  pitchers  of  water  being  stationed  at  regidar  intervals  along  the  course  to 
revive  those  overcome  by  fatigue. 

Some  of  the  southern  valle3-s  of  the  Sierra  Madre  are  inhabited  bj-  the  remains 
of  another  Indian  nation,  the  Tepehuans,  or  "Lords  of  the  Mountains,"  a  name, 
however,  to  which  they  are  no  longer  entitled.  After  some  conflicts  with  the 
missionaries,  they  were  almost  exterminated  by  the  Spaniards  of  Durango.  These 
natives,  who  are  now  Christians,  and  gradually  merging  M-ith  the  populations  of 
the  Sierra,  have  in  some  districts  preserved  their  language,  which  by  certain 
authors  is  said  to  contain  a  large  proportion  of  terms  analogous  to  those  of  the 
North  Asiatic  tongues. 

The  full-blood  Tepehuans  have  a  dull  yellovv'  complexion,  prominent  cheeki 



bones,  and  oblique  eyelids,  features  wbicb  are  all  cbaracteristic  of  the  Kergbiz  and 
Kalmuck  types.  Like  some  Siberian  peoples,  tbey  also  plait  the  bair  in  a  single 
tress,  ■wbicb  falls  over  the  nape  of  the  neck. 

But  whatever  be  said  of  the  hypotheses  affiliating  these  tribes  to  the  Asiatics, 
both  the  Tepehuans  and  their  southern  neighbours,  the  Coras,  have  been  classed 
by  Buschmann  and  Orozco  on  linguistic  grounds  in  the  same  family  as  the  Pimas, 
Opatas,  and  Tarahumaras.  On  the  other  hand  the  Sabaibos,  Acasees,  and  Xiximes 
of  Durango,  as  well  as  the  Conchos  of  Chihuahua,  who  dwell  on  the  plain  watered 
by  the  river  Concho,  would  appear  to  be  rather  Nahuas. 

The  space  comprised  between  the  Rio  Grande  and  the  east  slope  of  the  Sierra 
Madre  belongs  to  the  various  Apache  tribes,  who  form  a  separate  family  related 
in  speech  to  the  Athabascans  of  the  Mackenzie  basin.  Their  name,  which  is 
probably  of  Opata  origin,  is  said  to  mean  "  Bad  Dogs"  ;  but  they  call  themselves 
Shis  luday,  or  "  Men  of  the  Woods."  Till  within  a  recent  epoch,  all  the  northern 
provinces  of  the  republic  were  exposed  to  the  raids  of  these  ferocious  Indians,  and 
even  in  Durango,  over  360  miles  from  the  American  frontier,  crosses  set  up  on 
the  outskirts  of  the  towns  recalled  the  murders  committed  by  the  Apache  savages. 
Districts  which,  during  the  first  j'ears  of  the  conquest,  the  Spanish  troops  were 
able  to  traverse  without  fighting,  and  where  peaceful  colonies  had  been  founded, 
were  afterwards  invaded  by  the  marauders,  and  all  security  disappeared  beyond  the 
fortified  towns  and  stations.  Journeys  could  be  made  only  by  large  companies  or 
caravans,  and  the  armed  men,  whose  track  was  followed  by  the  savages  lurking  in 
the  surrounding  brushwood,  took  care  not  to  lag  behind  the  main  body. 

How  were  these  irrepressible  foes  to  be  got  rid  of  ?  Mounted  on  their  swift 
and  hardy  horses,  they  could  cover  60  or  even  120  miles  in  a  single  day. 
Everywhere  they  found  shelter  in  the  cactus  scrub  or  thickets,  and  the  shepherd, 
aware  of  their  presence,  dare  not  betray  them.  The  system  of  large  lauded  estates, 
which  had  brought  about  the  invasion  of  Italy  by  the  Barbarians,  also  facilitated 
the  incursions  of  the  Apaches  by  suppressing  the  little  centres  of  culture  and 
resistance  formerly  scattered  over  the  land,  by  replacing  tillage  with  stock-breed- 
ing, and  lastly  by  leaving  the  defence  of  the  country  to  mercenaries  who  had  often 
strong  inducements  to  come  to  an  understanding  with  the  plunderers. 

To  get  rid  of  the  Apache  robbers,  a  war  of  extermination  was  proclaimed 
against  them.  A  pi-ice  was  put  upon  their  heads,  the  tariff  being  regulated  accord- 
ing to  the  age  and  sex  of  the  slaiu.  The  Apaches  on  their  part  put  to  death  all 
adult  men  that  fell  into  their  hands,  sparing  the  women  and  children  to  recruit  their 
bands,  which,  by  this  process  of  miscegenation,  at  last  became  a  mongrel  group 
of  all  tribes  and  races.  In  this  atrocious  war,  it  often  happened  that  the  heralds 
themselves  were  not  spared.  The  military  authorities,  jealous  of  their  privileges, 
contributed  on  their  part  to  prolong  the  "reign  of  terror"  by  arrogating  to  them- 
selves the  exclusive  right  of  carrying  on  defensive  operations,  and  absolutely 
prohibiting  the  municipalities  from  combining  against  the  common  enemy.  But 
the  regular  troops  proved  insufficient  for  the  task  they  had  undertaken,  and  an 
appeal  had  to  be  made  to  foreign  mercenaries.     Thus  in  1850  a  band  of  Texans 



was  enlisted  in  CMliualiua  for  the  purpose  of  hunting  down  tlie  Apactes ;  but  it 
was  soon  discovered  that  these  dangerous  allies  found  it  more  convenient  to  plunder 
peaceful  travellers,  and  bring  their  scalps  to  the  Government  for  the  stipulated 
rewards.     At  last  Indians  were  hurled  against  Indians,  and  the  extermination 

Fig.   34. — 'WATEP.-C.iEKIEB   AXD  ToKTILLAS   WoMAX. 

of  the  Apaches  was  entrusted  to  their  hereditary  foes,  the  southern  Comanches, 
who  roamed  over  the  Bolson  de  iTapimi  plains.  The  few  survivors  have 
become  shepherds,  "  cowboys,"  horse-dealers,  even  guards  of  the  stations  on  the 
railways  that  now  traverse  their  former  hunting-grounds. 

The  north-east  region  of  ^Mexico  comprised  between  the  Rio  Bravo  and  Tampico, 


and  between  the  central  plateaux  and  the  Gulf  of  Mexico,  has  been  an  exclusive 
domain  of  Spanish  speech  since  the  last  century.  Scarcely  any  traces  still  survive 
of  Nahua  or  other  native  languages,  and  the  "  one  hundred  and  forty-eight 
nations "  of  Coahuila,  the  "  seventy-two "  of  Tamaulipas,  the  "  thirty-one  "  of 
Nuevo  Leon,  the  Manosprietas,  the  Irritilas,  Tamaulipecs,  Cuachichils,  and 
Zacotecs,  have  all  been  merged  in  the  general  mass  of  the  Mestizo  populations, 
abandoning  their  old  usages  and  distinct  idioms.  Wherever  the  people  were  in 
the  nomad  state  the  native  tongues  almost  invariably  disappeared,  but  held  their 
groimd  much  longer  among  the  settled  or  agricultural  classes. 

In  the  very  neighbourhood  of  the  capital  the  more  secluded  hiUs  and  upland 
valleys  are  still  inhabited  by  scattered  groups  of  the  Otomi,  an  Indian  nation 
which  seems  to  have  undergone  little  change  since  the  epoch  of  Toltec  rule. 
The  designation  of  "  Eed-haired  "  often  applied  to  them  has  probably  reference 
to  their  practice  of  dyeing  the  hair  red  when  on  the  war-path.  Round  about 
Queretaro,  which  may  be  taken  as  the  centre  of  their  domain,  they  occupy  nearly 
all  the  mountainous  parts  of  the  Anahuac  plateau  between  San  Luis  Potosi  and 
the  Sierra  Nevada;  hence  the  term  Serranos,  or  "Highlanders,"  commonly  applied 
to  them. 

The  Otomi  are  estimated  at  over  600,000,  including  those  who  have  exchanged 
their  language  for  Spanish  or  Aztec,  and  at  probably  1,000,000  if  the  Fame  and 
Mazahua  branches  be  included.  Despite  their  name,  which  in  Aztec  means 
"  Wanderers,"  the  Otomi  are  a  very  sedentary  people,  little  given  to  travelling 
except  between  their  mountain  villages  and  the  market  towns. 

Physically  thoy  have  large  heads  with  coarse  black  hair,  swarthy  complexion, 
heavy  carriage,  yet  are  excellent  runners.  By  some  writers  these  rude  loutish 
populations  have  been  regarded  as  the  remains  of  an  old  Chinese  colony,  an 
hypothesis  scarcely  in  accordance  with  the  view  that  assigns  a  Chinese  origin  to 
the  Aztec  culture.  The  theory  was  first  suggested  by  the  fact  that  the  Hia-Mu, 
that  is,  the  "Old,"  as  the  Otomi  language  is  called,  is,  Kke  Chinese,  almost  entirely 
monosyllabic.  The  two  languages  also  present  numerous  coincidences  in  their 
vocabularies ;  but  such  coincidences  are  almost  inevitable,  the  series  of  mono- 
syllabic words  being  naturally  somewhat  restricted  or  at  least  presenting  far  less 
diversity  of  form  than  that  of  polj^syllabic  terms. 

In  Michoacan,  west  and  south-west  of  the  capital,  the  bulk  of  the  population 
are  the  Tarascans  (Tarascos),  who  occupy  nearly  the  whole  of  Michoacan  itself, 
besides  a  small  part  of  the  neighbouring  state  of  Guanajuato.  But  in  various 
districts  they  are  intermingled  with  the  Otomi,  the  Mazahuas,  the  Matlaltzincas, 
as  well  as  some  more  or  less  mixed  descendants  of  the  Aztecs.  So  recently  as 
the  beginning  of  the  present  century,  the  Tarascan  language  was  still  dominant 
in  their  territory,  Spanish  being  almost  unknown  except  in  the  towns  ;  it  is 
even  still  the  chief  medium  of  intercourse  in  many  rural  districts  ;  but  Spanish, 
being  taught  in  the  schools,  is  gradually  prevailing.  The  Tarascans,  formerly 
rivals  of  the  allied  Aztec  race  in  general  culture,  were,  like  them,  acquainted 
with  pictorial  writing,  and  even  excelled  them  in  some  branches  of  industry. 



Theii-  religion  was  also  of  a  milder  character,  and  sanguinary  rites  had  been 
introduced  only  a  short  time  before  the  Spanish  conquest.  They  long  held 
out  valiantly  against  their  Aztec  "  Fathers-in-law;  "  their  own  name  (Tarhascue) 
had,  according  to  Lagunas,  the  meaning  of  "  Sons-in-law,"  and  was  said  to  have 
reference  to  their  exogamous  practice  of  taking  their  wives  from  their  Aztec 

On  the  east  slope  of  the  plateau,  facing  the  Gulf  of  Mexico,  are  found  some 
groups  of  distinct  populations  isolated  amid  the  surrounding  Aztec  people,  who 

Kg.  35. — Chief  KiiivE  Races  in  Mexico. 
Scale  I  :  30.000,000. 


Aztecs.  Mayas,  Qaichds, 

Huaxtecs,  Totonacs.         Mems. 


Mis  tecs. 


Opata-Cora.  Otomi,  &c.  Zoqn^,  Mixe.  Cborotega. 

,^___^^^,^_^,^^_  620  Miles. 

Chontals,  &o. 

have  become  more  or  less  assimilated  to  their  Spanish  rulers.  Such  are  the 
Huaxtecs  (Huastecos),  that  is,  "  Our  Neighbours,"  so  named  in  courtesy  by  the 
Aztecs,  although,  according  to  Pimentel,  the  term  means  "  People  of  the  Huaxi 
land,"  so  called  from  a  kind  of  fruit  common  In  their  territory.  They  occupy  the 
northern  part  of  the  State  of  Vera  Cruz,  and  stretch  thence  northwards  to  the 
plains  watered  by  the  lower  course  of  the  Tampico  river.  The  Huaxtecs  are  allied 
In  race  and  speech  to  the  JIayas  of  Yucatan,  although  no  tradition  survives  of 
the  events  by  which  they  became  severed  from  their  southern  kinsfolk.  Judging 
from  the  archaic  form  of  their  language,  Stoll  concludes  that  they  were  the  first 
who  became  isolated  from  the  primitive  ilaya  group,  and  various  names  of  places 


and  peoples  show  that  the  Maya  nation,  at  present  confined  to  the  Yucatan 
peninsula,  formerly  occupied  the  Tlaxcala  plateau. 

On  their  southern  frontier,  that  is,  iu  the  hills  whence  flows  the  Rio  Cazones, 
the  Huaxtecs  are  conterminous  with  the  Totonacs,  that  is,  the  "  Three  Hearts," 
eaid  to  be  so  named  because  they  formerly  made  a  solemn  triennial  sacrifice  of 
three  youths,  whose  hearts  were  offered  to  the  gods.  According  to  the  national 
traditions  the  Totonacs  also  accomplished  many  peregrinations  at  an  epoch  even 
antecedent  to  the  wanderings  of  the  Chichimecs  and  Aztecs,  and,  like  them,  at  last 
founded  new  homes  on  the  Anahuac  plateau,  but  more  to  the  east.  Most  ethno- 
logists adopt  the  views  of  Sahagun,  who  groups  the  Totonacs  in  the  same  family 
with  the  Huaxtecs  and  Mayas,  while  other  authorities  regard  them  as  quite 
distinct.  Alphonso  Pinart  also  makes  a  separate  division  of  the  few  thousand 
Akal'mans,  who  appear  to  speak  a  peculiar  language,  and  who  live  between  the 
Huaxtecs  and  Totonacs  in  the  northern  part  of  the  State  of  Hidalgo  and  in  Vera 
Cruz,  but  chiefly  round  about  the  city  of  Huejutla. 

The  last  group  of  native  races  in  Mexico  proper  beyond  Chiapas  and  Yucatan 
is  formed  by  the  various  Indian  populations  who  dwell,  to  the  number  of  about 
600,000,  in  the  southern  uplands  and  on  the  Pacific  slope  between  the  Acapulco 
district  and  the  isthmus  of  Tehuantepec.  Here  the  chief  languages,  which,  how- 
ever, present  but  slight  differences,  are  those  of  the  Mixtecs  and  Zapotecs,  that  is, 
"People  of  Cloudland,"  and  of  the  "Zapotas"  {casimiroa  cdulis).  Like  the 
Tarascans  these  nations  were  fully  as  civilised  as  the  Aztecs,  and  it  was  their 
strong  national  sentiments  that  enabled  them  to  offer  a  vigorous  resistance  to  the 
Spaniards,  and  even  to  maintain  a  state  of  semi-independence  down  to  quite  recent 
times.  Now,  however,  they  form  part  of  the  common  Mexican  nationality,  and 
by  their  energetic  habits  contribute  as  much  as  any  other  native  element  towards 
the  general  prosperity  of  the  commonwealth.  Spanish  will  soon  take  the  place 
of  the  local  languages  as  the  medium  of  general  intercourse,  as  it  has  already 
become  that  of  popular  instruction.  The  Mixes  also,  as  well  as  the  Zoques,  the 
Chinantecs,  and  other  peoples  of  East  Oaxaca,  who  are  usually  grouped  under  the 
general  name  of  Chontals,  that  is,  "  Savages,"  are  being  gradually  absorbed  in  the 
mass  of  the  civilised  population.  Their  Mixe  neighbours  are  said  to  have  such  a 
pool'  language  that  it  has  to  be  supplemented  by  numerous  loan  words  taken  from 
the  Spanish.  Formerly  they  had  to  eke  out  the  sense  by  means  of  gestures,  so 
that  after  nightfall,  or  when  the  lights  were  put  out,  all  conversation  ceased. 

Doubtless  many  of  the  Atzec  aborigines  were  in  some  respects  inferior  in 
culture  to  the  ancient  subjects  of  Montezuma.  But,  on  the  other  hand,  numerous 
tribes  which  formerly  possessed  no  culture  at  all,  have  now  entered  the  general 
movement  of  national  development.  In  any  case  the  multiplicity  of  idioms  still 
current  in  Mexican  territory,  some  spoken  by  a  few  hundred  thousand,  some  only 
by  a  few  thousand  or  even  a  few  hundred  persons,  prevent  all  comparison  between 
such  many-tongued  states,  for  instance,  as  Austria-Hungary  or  the  Turkish 
Empire.  Id  these  two  states  the  current  languages  belong  not  to  small  groups, 
but  to  powerful  nationalities  all  contending  for  supremacy  in  the  very  heart  of  the 


monarchy  itself ;  but  in  the  Mexicau  republic  Spanish,  recognised  by  all  as  the 
national  language,  is  steadily  and  surely  encroaching  on  all  the  others.  But 
excluding  the  Aztec,  Otomi,  Tarascan,  Mixtec,  and  Zapotec,  the  "  one  hundred 
and  twenty  "  languages  still  current  in  Mexico  are  spoken  only  bj^  obscure  and 
scattered  communities  of  but  slight  numerical  importance  ;  many  of  these  are  also 
actually  disappearing,  just  as  at  least  sixty  have  already  disappeared  since  the 
arrival  of  the  Spaniards  in  the  country.* 

The  indigenous  populations  differ  so  greatly  in  their  origin  and  other  respects 
that  it  is  impossible  to  draw  a  general  picture  of  the  Mexican  Indian  equally 
applicable  to  all.  The  accounts  given  by  various  authors  refer  chiefly  to  those  that 
are  met  along  the  highway  between  Yera  Cruz  and  the  capital  and  in  the  other 
more  important  towns  on  the  plateau.  In  fact,  these  writers  have  almost  exclu- 
sively taken  as  the  typical  representatives  of  the  aborigines  the  more  or  less 
civilified  Aztecs  and  the  still  barbarous  or  almost  savage  Otomi.  On  the  elevated 
tablelands  most  of  the  natives  have  a  skin  soft  as  velvet  to  the  touch,  but  so  thick 
that  it  conceals  as  with  a  vesture  all  prominences  and  play  of  veins  and  muscles. 
The  blood  is  not  seen  as  through  a  transparencj'  on  the  cheeks,  except  amongst  the 
young  girls,  whose  features  are  said  at  times  to  "  beam  like  copper  lit  up  by  the 
sun."  An  extremely  mild  expression  is  imparted  to  the  whole  physiognomy  by 
the  cheekbones,  which,  though  prominent,  are  still  enclosed  in  a  thick  layer  of 
flesh,  by  the  nose  with  its  wide  nostrils,  the  tumid  lips  and  rounded  chin.  The 
glance  also  acquires  a  highly  characteristic  expression  from  the  peculiar  disposition 
of  the  eyelids,  the  upper  being  scarcely  curved  above  the  median  line  of  the  eye, 
while  the  lower  describes  a  more  decided  arch  towards  the  cheek  than  is  found  in 
anj-  other  race.  The  skull  is  brachycephalic,  this  rounded  form,  however,  being 
due  in  many  districts  to  the  custom  of  moulding  the  head  of  the  infants  on  the 
inner  curve  of  a  calabash.  The  hair  is  black,  coarse,  and  lank,  like  that  of  all  full- 
blood  American  aborigines. 

A  distinguishing  feature  of  the  upland  populations  is  their  broad  and  highly 
convex  chest ;  they  are  also  noted  for  the  great  muscular  strength  of  their  legs  ; 
when  resting  by  the  wayside  or  in  their  homes  they  squat  down  on  their  toes,  and 
show  no  signs  of  fatigue  even  after  hours  of  such  an  apparently  uncomfortable 
posture.  On  journeys  thej'  always  walk  in  single  file,  with  a  light  springj'  step  in 
unison,  and  bent  somewhat  forward,  as  if  to  present  their  broad  back  to  the 
burden.  The  attitude,  in  fact,  is  that  of  pack  animals,  and  such  was  the  condition  in 
which  they  had  been  till  recently  kept  by  their  Spanish  taskmasters.     The  women 

•  Chief  languages  spoken  in  Mexico  proper,  excluding  Chiapas  and  Yucatan : — 
Nahnatl or  Mexican  (Aztec),  mth  Acaxee,  Sabaibo,  Xixime,  Cochimi,  Concho,  and  othermembers 

of  the  same  family. 
Seri,  Upanguaima  and  Guaima. 

Papago,  Opata,  Taqni,  Mayo,  Tarahumara,  Tepehuan,  Cora,  &c. 
Apache  or  Tavipai,  Navajo,  Mescalero,  Llanero,  Lipan,  &c. 
Otomi  or  Hia-hiu,  Fame,  Mazahua,  &c. 
Huaxtec,  Totonac. 
Tarascan,  Matlaltzincan. 
Mixtec,  Zapotec,  Mixe,  Zoqae,  Chinantco. 


when  kneeling,  with  motionless  head  and  bust,  fixed  gaze,  and  upheaved  chest, 
have  the  aspect  of  ancient  Egyptian  statues  ;  so  striking  is  the  resemblance  that,  in 
the  language  of  Lucien  Biart,  "  we  dream  despite  ourselves  of  a  possible  kinship 
between  the  two  peoples."  The  Mexican  Indian  is  extremely  frugal  and  regular 
in  his  almost  exclusively  vegetable  diet,  consisting  mainly  of  beans,  maize, 
pimento,  and  bananas.  In  the  family  circle  he  is  fond  of  occasionally  drinking  to 
excess  ;  but  whatever  quantity  of  pulque  or  other  intoxicating  liquors  he  may  take, 
he  is  never  affected  by  delirium  tremens.  The  natives  suffer  from  few  ailments,  and 
those  who  escape  from  the  convulsions  and  other  disorders  of  infancy  generally 
arrive  at  mature  age,  though  seldom  taking  the  trouble  to  count  the  years  of  their 
unchequered  lives. 

Nevertheless  the  Indians  who  have  kept  aloof  from  the  European  and  settled 
Mestizo  communities,  rejecting  the  culture  and  customs  of  civilised  society,  betray 
that  appearance  of  gloom  and  incurable  sadness  which  seems  to  hang  over  races 
destined  to  perish.  They  are  always  serious,  silent  if  not  sullen,  and  justly 
suspicious.  They  seek  the  solitude,  and  reluctantly  quit  their  native  homes, 
which  are  carefully  enclosed  by  tall  cactus  hedges.  Beyond  their  lowly  hamlet 
with  its  belfry  fondly  raised  by  the  villagers,  nothing  seems  to  awaken  their 
curiosity.  Nevertheless  they  follow  with  a  furtive  glance  the  man  from  whom 
they  have  suffered  wrong  ;  they  can  dissemble  while  awaiting  the  opportunity  for 

The  half-castes,  who  tend  more  and  more  to  constitute  the  bulk  of  the  popula- 
tion, are  on  the  whole  of  more  graceful  form  and  more  delicate  frame  than  the 
full-blood  Indians.  Like  them,  they  have  black  and  mostly  lank  hair,  straight 
and  at  times  slightly  flattened  nose,  and  depressed  brow.  But  what  the  features 
lack  in  regular  outline  is  always  compensated  by  a  kindly  expression  and  winning 
smile.  The  articulations  of  hands  and  feet  are  extremely  delicate,  notwithstanding 
the  tendency  of  the  women  to  corpulence.  It  was  stated  at  a  recent  meeting  of 
the  French  Anthropological  Society*  that  of  all  clients  of  the  French  glove- 
makers  the  Mexican  and  Peruvian  Creoles  have  the  smallest  hands.  The  Mexican 
civilian  is  noted  for  his  quiet,  easy  carriage  ;  he  is  always  courteous  even  towards 
his  most  intimate  friends ;  unaffectedly  polite  even  towards  those  against  whom 
he  may  bear  a  grudge.  But  despite  a  clear  intellect  he  seldom  betrays  any  marked 
aptitude  for  any  profession,  and  in  youth  he  is  easily  led  into  dissipated,  frivolous 
ways.  He  is  open-handed,  shares  freely  with  his  friends,  and  with  a  light 
heart  will  stake  his  all  at  a  single  hazard.  "His  purse  burns,"  says  a  local 
proverb,  to  give  some  idea  of  the  recklessness  of  the  Mestizo,  which  contrasts  so 
strangely  with  the  greed  of  the  pure  Indian.  Thus  the  Mixtecs  and  Zapotecs  of 
Oaxaca,  for  instance,  are  said  still  to  hide  away  all  their  savings,  concealing  them 
even  from  their  own  families,  so  that  at  the  day  of  resurrection  they  may  have 
all  the  enjoyment  to  themselves.  A  prodigious  amount  of  treasure  is  supposed  to 
lie  buried  in  the  ground  in  consequence  of  this  practice,  which,  however,  dates 
from  pre-Christian  times.     Property   accompanied  its  owner  to  the  grave,  and 

*  February  6th,  1890. 


rich  finds  may  vet  be  expected  to  be  brougbt  to  light  from  the  old  burial-places 
in  this  region. 

The  Spanish  element  amongst  the  iTestizo  populations  of  the  Mexican  plateaux 
was  drawn  chiefly  fi"om  Galicia,  Astui-ia,  and  the  Basque  country,  whereas  the 
settlers  in  the  low-hing  district  of  Vera  Cruz  were  mostly  Andalusians.  Later 
came  the  Catalonians  ;  but  at  no  period  did  this  tide  of  immigration  assimie  any 
considerable  magnitude,  and  it  was  arrested  altogether  during  the  war  of  independ- 
ence. A  large  proportion  of  the  50,000  Spaniards  at  that  time  living  in  the 
country  were  driven  into  exile,  and  then  took  place  the  opposite  movement  of  a 
return  to  the  old  country.  Since  the  revolution  a  small  stream  of  emigration  has 
again  set  towards  Mexico,  and  especially  towards  the  uplands ;  amongst  these 
more  recent  arrivals  are  many  natives  of  France  and  Italy,  as  well  as  of  Xorth 
Europe,  and  several  thousand  English  and  German  settlers  now  reside  on  the 
eleyated  plateaux  of  the  cold  zone. 

It  was  long  supposed,  on  the  faith  of  Humboldt's  statement,  that  in  Anahuac 
altitude  compensated  almost  exactly  for  the  more  northern  latitudes  of  Europe, 
and  that  consequently  the  European  could  here  be  rapidly  and  permanently 
acclimatised.  "  ^ith  the  exception  of  a  few  seaports  and  some  deep  yaUeys," 
wrote  the  great  German  naturalist,  "Xew  Spaia  must  be  regarded  as  a  highly 
salubrious  country."  Such  it  certainly  is  for  the  natives,  who  have  become  adapted 
to  their  environment  from  time  immemorial.  But  the  comparative  researches  of 
Joui'danet  and  other  physiologists  plainly  show  that  northern  and  even  southern 
Europeans  cannot  settle  with  impunity  on  the  higher  tablelands,  where  the 
barometric  column  stands  normally  at  about  23  or  24  inches,  consequently 
where  atmospheric  pressure  is  one-fifth  less  than  at  sea-level ;  hence  the  lungs 
inhale  in  an  hour  about  one  ounce  less  of  oxygen  on  these  plateaux  than  on  the 
coastlands.  The  stranger  residing  on  the  uplands,  where  he  supposes  himself 
to  be  acclimatised,  nms  more  risk  than  the  Indian,  despite  his  greater  attention  to 
hygienic  precautions.  He  has  especially  to  dread  the  dry  season,  that  is  to  say,  tho 
three  months  of  March,  April,  and  May,  when  the  aqueous  vapour  is  insufficient  to 
stimulate  the  respiratory  functions.  Children  born  of  Europeans  are  usually  frail 
waifs,  difficult  to  rear  and  nearly  always  overtaken  by  premature  old  age.  Even 
for  the  natives  themselves  the  yearly  increase  of  the  population  is  far  greater  in 
the  temperate  than  in  the  cold  zone.  The  immigrants  are  more  threatened  on 
the  plateatix  than  on  the  lower  slopes ;  those  even  who  settle  on  the  burning 
plains  of  the  seaboard  are  relatively  better  armed  after  overcoming  the  yellow 
or  marsh  fevers,  and  thus  become  more  acclimatised  than  their  feilow-cotmtrymen 
on  the  elevated  lands,  where  affections  of  the  lungs,  as  well  as  dysentery  and 
typhoid  fevers,  are  more  prevalent. 

On  the  seaboard  phthisis  is  common  enough,  and  often  assumes  a  highly  acute 
form,  except  in  the  swampy  districts  where,  so  to  say,  it  is  driven  out  by  the 
marsh  fevers.  Thus  these  two  formidable  disorders  divide  the  coastlands  between 
them.  Another  terrible  scourge  on  the  shores  of  the  Gulf  and  especially  at  Yera 
Cruz  is  yellow  fever,  which,  though  less  frequent  in  winter,  occasionally  prevails 



at  all  seasons.  It  would  almost  seem  as  if  this  malady  was  unknown  before  the 
arrival  of  the  Europeans  in  the  country ;  at  least,  medical  men  have  failed  to 
identify  it  with  any  of  the  other  contagious  epidemics  mentioned  in  the  history 
of  Mexico.  The  first  certain  indication  of  its  presence  occurs  so  recently  as  the 
middle  of  the  seventeenth  century  in  connection  with  some  extensive  earthworks 
causing  a  disturbance  of  the  soil.  Its  range  is  limited  to  about  3,300  feet  on  the 
eastern  slope  of  the  plateau,  and  cases  are  very  rare  above  2,500  feet.  But  the 
germs  of  the  disease  contracted  on  the  coast  may  be  developed  on  the  uplands  a  few 
days  after  the  arrival  of  the  patient,  and  then  it  assumes  a  very  dangerous  form, 
frequently  ending  fatally.  On  the  Pacific  side  the  ports  of  Acapulco,  San  Bias,  and 
Tehuantepec  enjoy  immunity  from  yellow  fever,  which,  however,  is  replaced  by  a 

Fig.  36.— Peevailinq  Diseases  in  Mexico. 

Scale  1 :  24,000,000. 

Cold  Zone. 

Altitude  of  2,300  feet,  limit  of  Yellow  Feyer. 
_____  620  Miles. 

bilious  fever,  whose  attacks  are  rarely  dreaded  by  the  indigenous  populations.  The 
vitiated  taste  which  often  develops  a  craving  for  earth,  especially  amongst  the 
women,  is  common  in  South  Mexico.  Even  on  the  plateaux  little  pastilles  of  a 
perfumed  earth  are  exposed  for  sale  at  the  markets,  and  never  lack  purchasers. 

Mexico  is  also  noted  for  certain  ailments  which  have  been  observed  in  no  other 
part  of  the  world.  On  the  Atlantic  slope,  and  especially  at  Orizaba,  a  serious 
affection  occurs  caused  by  the  moyoquU,  a  species  of  insect  whose  larva,  deposited 
under  the  skin,  burrows  into  the  flesh,  where  it  raises  a  tumour  as  large  as  a  hen's 
egg.  It  is  cured  by  the  application  of  a  turpentine  plaister,  by  which  the  sore  is 
suppurated  and  the  germ  drawn  out.  Much  more  frequent  is  the  so-called  2^into 
malady,  which  afEects  whole  populations,  especially  in  the  states  of  Guerrero  and 
Oaxaca.     This  is  a  cutaneous  affection  which  destroys  the  uniform  colour  of  the 


skin,  in  one  place  raising  a  patcli  of  white  on  a  black  ground,  in  another  a  dirty- 
red  on  white ;  then  these  patches  gradually  expand,  often  with  a  certain  regularity, 
until  the  body  becomes  mottled  over  like  a  piebald  horse  or  certain  snakes  and 
salamanders.  Hence  the  tennjjinfo,  or  '•'  painted,"  applied  to  this  malady,  which 
in  many  upland  valleys  prevails  jointly  with  goitre  over  the  whole  commimity. 

Lo^wER  Californli. 

Lower  California,  at  once  the  most  remote,  and  geographically  the  most 
distinct  region  of  the  republic,  is  at  the  same  time  the  least  important  from  the 
political  standpoint.  It  may,  in  fact,  be  said  to  be  useless,  except  as  presenting 
a  rampart  of  some  750  miles  on  the  Pacific  side  of  Mexican  territory.  "With  a 
scant  poptilation  of  little  over  30,000,  and  with  scarcely  any  resources  beyond  its 
mines,  fisheries  and  salt-pits,  it  has  not  even  been  considered  worthy  of  constitut- 
ing a  separate  state,  and  still  remains  a  simple  territory  belonging  in  common  to 
the  whole  commonwealth.  It  is  so  indifferently  administered  that  the  Korth 
Americans  have  frequently  crossed  the  fi-ontier  of  the  peninsula  to  work  the 
deposits  of  ores  and  salt  at  their  pleasure  without  even  the  formality  of  a  previous 
concession.  Extensive  salt-beds  were  long  known  to  stretch  along  the  west  coast 
round  the  shores  of  Sebastian  Vizcaino  Bay ;  but  basins  of  saline  efflorescences  are 
so  numerous  in  other  parts  of  ilexican  territory  that  the  Spaniards  had  no  induce- 
ment to  work  these  vast  Califomian  deposits.  In  1884  some  ilexican  explorers 
risiting  the  inlet  known  as  Ojo  de  Liebre  from  a  neighbouring  spring,  discovered 
to  their  astonishment  the  remains  of  large  mining  works  that  had  been  constructed 
by  some  American  speculators.  Here  were  landing-stages,  platforms,  depots, 
railways,  trucks,  and  other  rolling  stock,  occupying  altogether  a  space  of  over  3j 
miles.  Evidently  a  large  number  of  hands  had  been  employed  on  the  works  ;  yet 
the  Mexican  Government  had  never  been  informed  of  these  extensive  operations, 
either  because  of  the  remoteness  of  the  peninsula  and  lack  of  local  population  or 
more  probably  owing  to  the  remissness  or  venality  of  the  officials. 

About  half  of  the  Lower  Califomian  population  is  concentrated  towards  the 
southern  extremity  of  the  peninsula,  and  chiefly  in  the  vicinity  of  La  Paz  Bay. 
The  provincial  capital,  founded  by  the  Jesuit  missionaries,  stands  in  the  bed  of  a 
waterless  torrent  on  the  north  side  of  the  bay,  which  is  sheltered  on  the  east 
side  by  the  rocky  headland  of  Pichilingue. 

A  well-kept  road,  lined  by  norias  or  draw-wells,  winds  between  orchards,  vine- 
yards, coffee  and  other  plantations  from  La  Paz  southwards  to  the  flourishing 
village  of  Todos  Santos,  on  the  Pacific  coast.  This  district  is  watered  by  a 
perennial  stream,  a  rare  phenomenon  in  Lower  California.  La  Paz  thus  possesses 
considerable  agricultural  resources ;  but  its  chief  wealth  stiQ  consists  in  its  gold 
and  silver  mines,  which  were  formerly  far  more  productive  than  at  present, 
yielding  large  supplies  of  the  precious  metals  under  the  Jesuit  administration. 
The  richest  lodes  were  said  to  have  been  blocked  in  1767,  when  the  missionaries 
were  expelled,  and  if  so  their  position  has  been  faithfully  kept  a  profound  secret 
by  the  Indians  ever  since  that  epoch.  i. 



But  however  this  be,  certain  mines,  sucIl  as  those  of  Sail  Antonio,  south  of 
La  Paz,  are  still  very  rich  in  auriferous  ores,  their  annual  yield  exceeding 
£480,000.     At  Marques,  north-west  of  La  Paz,  a  quicksilver  mine  is  also  worked. 

La  Paz  is  also  the  centre  of  important  pearl  fisheries  in  the  Gulf  of  California. 
The  submerged  rocks  off  Cape  Pichilingue  are  covered  with  pearl  oysters,  which 
are  fished  up  by  the  Yaqui  Indians.  Whole  forests  of  coral  flourished  in  the 
straits  separating  the  island  from  the  mainland,  and  here  are  collected  as  many  as 
nineteen  different  species  of  sponges,  all,  however,  of  a  somewhat  coarse  texture. 
Although  the  value  of  these  fisheries,  like  that  of  the  mines,  has  gradually  fallen 

Fig.  37.— La  Paz. 
Scale  1 :  11,000,000. 

113' West   of    bree    wch 



6  to  25 

25  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

>  12  MUes. 

off,  the  average  annual  yield  is  still  estimated  at  about  £10,000  on  the  spot.  The 
pearls  are  bought  up  by  Jewish  dealers  of  New  York,  who  realise  considerable 
profits  on  the  transaction. 

Lorefo,  which,  like  the  capital,  lies  on  the  Gulf  some  160  miles  farther  north, 
was  formerly  the  religious  centre  of  Lower  California.  Here  the  Jesuit  mis- 
sionary, Salvatierra,  established  in  1697  the  first  fortified  station,  whence  expedi- 
tions were  made  into  the  interior  to  bring  back  captives,  who  were  then  manu- 
factured into  devout  believers. 

At  the  western  foot  of  the  neighbouring  Giant  Mountain  lies  the  village  of 
Comondt),  whore  a  small  detachment  of  Mexican  soldiers  held  out  for  four  months 
against  greatly  superior  American  forces.     The  architecture  of  this  village,  like 

SONOEA.  95 

that  of  all  the  older  settlements  in  the  peninsula,  differs  little  from  that  of  the 
Zuni  Pueblos  in  Xew  Mexico.  It  consists  of  one  huge  square  block  enclosed  by  a 
trench,  and  without  any  windows  or  other  apertures  on  the  outer  sides.  This 
common  stone  dwelling  is  disposed  ia  two  storeys,  the  first  of  which  recedes  a  few 
yards  from  the  basement,  and  is  reached  by  a  ladder  placed  agaiast  the  wall.  A 
second  ladder  leads  to  the  top  of  the  building,  whence  the  inmates  get  acce:^  by 
trap-doors  and  more  ladders  to  the  rooms  and  inner  court. 

In  recent  years  some  commercial  activity  has  been  developed  in  districts  which 
were  formerly  desert  or  almost  uninhabited.  Thus  the  village  of  JIukge,  lying  on 
the  shores  of  Santa  Inez  Bay,  over  60  miles  north-west  of  Loreto,  has  become  a 
busy  mioing  centre  since  the  discovery  of  auriferous  deposits  in  the  valleys  of  the 
interior.  Xear  the  United  States  frontier  the  village  of  Todos  Santos  gives  its  name 
to  the  neighbouring  bay,  which  ofiers  excellent  shelter  to  vessels  engaged  in  the 
coasting  trade.  The  port  of  San  Bartolome,  which  stands  on  the  opposite  side  of 
Cape  San  Eugenio,  also  attracts  some  shipping.  But  the  best  haven  on  the  whole 
coast  is  that  of  Santa  ilagdalena,  the  narrow  entrance  to  which  has  over  100  feet 
of  water  in  the  channel.  The  spacious  inner  basin  is  large  enough  to  accommodate 
whole  fleets. 


The  State  of  Sonora,  which  faces  the  northern  part  of  the  Calif omian  peninsula, 
is  also  one  of  the  least  inhabited  regions  in  the  republic  ;  with  an  area  of  nearly 
80,000  square  miles,  its  population  scarcely  exceeds  150,000,  or  rather  less  than 
two  to  the  square  mile.  In  1859,  the  adventurer,  Raousset  Boulbon,  who  had 
placed  himself  at  the  head  of  a  band  of  French  miners  returning  from  California, 
was  for  some  time  master  of  Sonora.  The  arable  tracts,  where  the  civilised  Indians 
and  Mestizoes  have  formed  settlements,  are  confined  to  the  bottom  lands  of  the 
mountain  valleys.  Every  town  and  village  is  encircled  by  a  zone  of  irrigated  land, 
the  settlements  thus  forming  so  many  oases,  some  of  which  are  connected  together 
by  narrow  strips  of  verdure.  The  very  name  of  the  country,  from  the  Opata  word 
Sonoratzi,  a  "  Place  of  Springs,"  originally  applied  to  a  cattle  ranche,  indicates  the 
important  part  played  by  wells  in  this  arid  region. 

Amongst  the  Sonoran  towns  Santa  Magdakna  lies  nearest  to  the  United 
States  frontier,  being  situated  on  a  headstream  of  the  Rio  de  la  Asuncion,  which 
flows  west  to  the  north  end  of  the  Gnlf  of  California.  At  the  time  of  the 
annual  fairs  the  whole  of  the  surrounding  populations,  white  and  red,  American 
and  Mexican,  form  temporary  camping-grounds  in  the  valley  of  the  river.  Far- 
ther south  several  settlements  have  been  founded  in  the  basin  of  the  Rio  Sonora  ; 
such  are  Ari^pe,  in  the  territorv  of  the  Opata  Indians,  formerly  capital  of  the 
state ;  Ures,  which  succeeded  it  as  centre  of  the  administration,  and  which  Kes 
near  the  narrow  gorges  where  the  river  escapes  from  the  Sierra  Madre  on  its 
westerly  course  to  the  Gulf  ;  lastly  Hermosillo,  formerly  Piiic,  or  the  "  Confluence," 
the  largest  town  in  Sonora  and  centre  of  a  considerable  agricultural  industry.  The 
district  which  is  irrigated   by  the  last  waters  qI  the  Sonora,  and  its  Cucurpe 


affluent,  grows  sugar  and  wheat,  and  its  inhabitants  claim  that  the  yield  of  wheat 
is  proportionately  higher  than  in  any  other  part  of  the  world.  Nevertheless, 
Hermosillo  owes  its  importance  not  to  its  agricultural  resources,  but  to  the 
mineral  deposits  discovered  in  the  vicinity.  Between  1867  and  1888,  the  local 
mint  coined  a  total  sum  of  £2,640,000,  chiefly  in  silver  pieces.  South-west  of  the 
town  rises  the  famous  Cerro  de  la  Campana,  or  "  Bell  Mountain,"  whose  porphyry 

Fig.  38.— Gttathas. 

I       Scale  1 :  170,000. 


2Jt0  5 





10  to  25 


3  Miles. 

25  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

blocks  appear  to  vibrate  with  a  silvery  sound.  The  YaquI  river  basin,  although 
less  thickly  peopled  than  that  of  the  Rio  Sonora,  contains  in  its  upper  valleys 
a  few  industrious  places,  such  as  OjMsura  and  Sahuaripa,  where  the  Indians  are 
engaged  especially  in  the  manufacture  of  cotton  fabrics.  Oposura,  the  old  capital 
of  the  Opata  nation,  has  recently  taken  the  name  of  Modczuma,  in  memory  of  the 
former  rulers  of  the  land. 

SrSTAT.OA.  97 

The  Stale  of  Sonora  possesses  on  the  Colorado  river  the  little  port  of  Lcnlo, 
situated  near  a  cliister  of  low  islands  where  the  Coeopa  Indians  gather  the  uniola 
pa/mcri,  an  alimentary  cereal  till  recently  unknown  to  botanists.  Much  farther 
south  lies  the  seaport  of  Giiaijmas,  so  named  from  an  extinct  Indian  tribe, 
which  was  a  member  of  the  Pima  family.  The  harbour  of  Guaymas  is  one  of  the 
best  in  Mexico,  and  in  a  better-peopled  and  more  flourishing  district  it  could 
not  fail  to  acquire  considerable  economic  importance.  But  the  whole  of  the 
seaboard  is  an  arid  waste;  not  a  tree  is  to  be  seen,  not  a  drop  of  water 
wells  up  for  miles  around  the  port,  which  is  encircled  Kke  a  flooded  crater  by  bare 
rocks.  The  very  shrubs  growing  in  the  town  are  rooted  in  soil  brought  from 
the  United  States,  and  are  irrigated  by  a  brackish  water  drawn  from  deep  weUs. 
Nevertheless  its  excellent  anchorage  attracts  to  Guaymas  an  increasing  number 
of  vessels,  and  the  place  has  been  recently  brought  into  railway  communication 
with  the  mining  and  agricultural  district  of  Hermosillo,  as  well  as  through  Arizona 
with  the  network  of^  United  States  lines.  The  Guaymas  traders  export  marine 
salt  and  a  little  guano  collected  on  Fafos,  or  "  Duck  "  Island,  an  arid  rock  lying 
north  of  the  large  island  of  Tiburon,  or  the  "  Shark."  To  these  products  may  some 
day  be  added  an  anthracite  coal  of  excellent  quality,  large  deposits  of  which  are 
found  in  the  valley  of  the  upper  Mayo  river. 

Towards  the  southern  extremity  of  Sonora  lies  the  mining  town  of  Alamos,  or 
the  "  Poplars,"  which,  like  Hermosillo,  has  its  own  mint,  where  are  annually  issued 
from  £350,000  to  £400,000  worth  of  coins.  Alamos  lies  just  within  the  basin  of 
the  Fuerte  river,  so  named  from  the  old  Sinaloan  fort  of  El  Fuerte  or  Monfes 
Claros,  which  guarded  the  seaboard  from  the  Maj-o  and  Yaqui  Indians,  and  which 
has  now  become  a  flourishing  little  town. 

The  natural  port  both  of  Alamos  and  El  Fuerte  is  Agiabampo,  where  are  shipped 
dyewoods  and  silver  ingots  and  ores,  but  only  by  small  craft,  there  being  onlj'  ten 
or  twelve  feet  of  water  on  the  bar  at  ebb  tide.  The  old  Indian  town  of  Sinaloa, 
which  has  given  its  name  to  the  State  of  Sinaloa,  has  for  its  outport  the'  deep  and 
perfectly-sheltered  haven  of  San  Carlos,  which  communicates  with  the  sea  through 
the  strait  of  Topolobampo,  which  is  accessible  to  vessels  drawing  sixteen  or 
eighteen  feet. 

CuUacan,  present  capital  of  the  State  of  Sinaloa,  is  one  of  the  old  cities  of 
Mexico.  In  1531,  ten  years  after  the  conquest,  it  had  already  been  founded  near 
Hue-  Colli  uacan,  that  is,  "  Snake  Town,"  one  of  the  stations  on  the  line  of  the  Nahua 
migrations.  At  this  place  the  Spaniards  organised  all  their  expeditions  of  disco- 
very and  conquest  made  in  the  direction  of  the  north.  Culiacan,  which  lies  on  the 
river  of  like  name  in  a  fertUe  district  encircled  by  hiUs,  is  connected  by  a  railway 
nearly  40  miles  long  with  its  port  of  Altata,  on  a  deep  lagoon  which  is  sheltered 
from  the  surf  by  a  long  strip  of  sand.  AU  the  gold  and  silver  ores  of  Sinaloa  are 
forwarded  through  this  place,  and  between  1846  and  1888,  the  Culiacan  mint 
issued  gold  and  silver  specie  to  the  value  of  £8,200,000. 

In  South  Sinaloa  Hes  the  important  city  of  Mazatlan,  the  most  active  seaport 
on  the  west  coast  of  Mexico.     Its  Indian  name  means  "  Deer-land,"  and  one  of 

VOL.    XVIT.  H 



the  islets  on  the  neighbouring  coast  bears  the  Spanish  designation  of  Venado, 
which  has  much  the  same  meaning.  The  researches  made  in  the  surrounding 
alluvial  districts  have  brought  to  light  numerous  remains  of  stags'  antlers 
associated  with  arrowheads,  axes,  and  other  stone  weapons  and  implements.  As 
a  seaport  Mazatlan  cannot  compare  in  natural  advantages  either  with  Gruay- 
mas  or  Acapulco ;  the  roadstead  is  exposed  to  all  winds,  and  in  order  to  avoid 
the  nor'westers,  especially  dangerous  in  these  waters,  vessels  have  to  ride  at 

Fig.  39. — Mazatlas. 
Scale  1  :  30,000. 

West  oF  Gr. 




Sands  exposed  at 
low  water. 


16  to  32 


,  1,100  Yards. 

64  Feet  and 

anchor  in  a  part  of  the  bay  where  the  ground-swell  rolls  in  from  the  soiith  and 
south-west.  But  for  the  export  trade  with  California  Mazatlan  has  the  advantage 
of  lying  exactly  under  the  latitude  of  Cape  St.  Lucas ;  in  other  words,  it  is  the  first 
Mexican  seaport  reached  by  vessels  arriving  from  San  Francisco.  Hence  it  has 
become  one  of  the  chief  ports  of  call  for  the  regular  steampackets,  and  thus  have 
been  developed  numerous  local  industries,  such  as  saw-mills,  rope- walks,  foundries 
and  spinning  factories,  employing  a  large  number  of  foreign  hands. 

Some  30  miles  due  south-east  of  Mazatlan  is  the  little  town  of  Chametla,  that 



is  "Cabins,"  in  Aztec,  a  place  wliich  the  early  Spanisli  navigators  had  endeavoured 
to  utilise  as  a  seaport  long  before  their  attention  was  drawn  to  Mazatlan.     From 

Fig.  40.— Cathedbal  of  Chihttahua. 

Chametla  Cortes  sailed  in  1535  on  bis  expedition  of  exploration  in  the  "  Vermillion 


100  MZXi:0.  'rEATElAL  AMEEICA.  ■VTESI  IST'lZ-S. 

On  tlie  east  slope  of  the  Sierra  Madre,  the  chief  city  in.  Xorth  Mexico  is 
Ckikiuiktuiy  which  is  variously  explained  to  mean  the  "  City  of  "Water "  or  the 
"  Gtj  of  Plfiasnre."  It  stands  at  a  mean  altitude  of  4,600  feet  at  the  foot  of  the 
lofl^  Cerro  Grande,  between  two  streams  whose  miited  waters  form  the  Conchos 
afflocait  of  the  Bio  Braro  del  Xorte.  An  aqueduct  deriyed  from  one  of  these 
streams  winds  round  the  flanks  of  the  mountain,  separating  the  region  of  scrub 
from  the  irrigated  fidds  and  gardens  of  the  slopes.  Chihuahua  is  a  decayed  place, 
which  in  the  last  centoiy,  during  die  flourishing  period  of  the  surrounding  mines, 
is  said  to  haTB  had  a  population  of  75,000,  that  is,  about  sis  times  more  than  at 
piesenL  The  cathedral,  erected  and  long  maintained  at  the  cost  of  the  miners, 
is  an  imposing  stnicture  towering  abore  all  the  surrounding  buildings.  Here 
is  also  a  mint,  which  has  become  the  third  most  important  in  Mexico  since  the 
work  of  exploring  flie  metalliferoas  lodes  has  been  resumed  by  American  miners. 
The  ores  which  supply  the  Chihuahua  mint  come  chiefly  from  the  deposits  of 
Samta  EidaUa,  a  village  lying  about  20  mQes  to  the  south-east  in  a  narrow  glen 
flanked  by  inhalnted  caves.  The  argentiferous  lodes  of  Santa  Eulalia  have 
already  famished  to  the  trade  of  the  world  a  quantity  of  silver  estimated  at 
iS8,000,000.  The  ore  is  poor,  but  occurs  in  great  abundance,  so  that  when  the 
depc^ts  are  not  wurted  by  companies  the  so-called  gambmiiios,  or  private  miners, 
find  enough  metal  to  earn  a  livelihood.  The  very  slag,  which  has  been  used  to 
build  hundreds  of  houses  in  Chihuahua,  or  to  enclose  fields  and  gardens,  is  said 
still  to  contain  a  percentage  of  aivear  valued  at  not  less  than  £80,000,000,  so  that 
it  has  been  proposed  to  submit  it  to  a  further  process  of  reduction. 

Another  decayed  place  is  CosiJutiriaehi,  which  lies  some  60  miles  to  the  south- 
west in  a  vallev  of  the  Siena  Madre,  and  which  during  the  last  century  had  a 
population  of  over  80,000.  BahtpQag,  which  stands  in  the  upper  basin  of  the  Ftio 
del  Fuerte  within  the  Chihuahua  frontier,  has  yielded  altogether  £12,000,000 
during  the  250  years  that  have  followed  the  discovery  of  its  deposits.  Scarcely 
le^  productive  than  the  Batopilas  mines  are  those  of  Guadalupe  y  Cairo,  in  the 
Sinaloa  river  ba^  at  the  south  comer  of  the  state. 

The  eastern  section  of  Chihaahua  is  an  almost  completely  desert  region, 
whereas  the  w^item  zone,  comprising  the  slope  of  the  Sierra  Madre,  is  a  land 
of  minra  and  forests,  of  gra^  heights  and  arable  tracts.  Here  is  ample  room 
for  a  large  population,  and  in  the  xqtland  valleys  stock-breeding  and  horticulture 
might  be  successfully  carried  on.  Nearly  all  the  towns  in  the  state,  San 
Pablo  Mtogni,  Stmia  Cruz  de  Bosales,  Santa  Smalia,  Hidalgo  del  Parral,  follow 
in  the  direction  from  north  to  south  parallel  with  the  Sierra  Madre,  and  lie 
at  the  issue  of  the  various  fluvial  valleys,  whose  streams  form  the  Eio  Conchos. 
The  railway  from  Denver  City  to  Mexico  traverses  the  state  in  the  same  direc- 
tion, and  penetrates  into  Mexican  territory  through  the  historic  town  of  Paso 
del  Norte,  which  stands  on  the  right  bank  of  the  Eio  Bravo  at  the  point  where 
fliis  river  beccmifis  ih&  common  frontier  between  the  two  republics.    Paso  is 

DUEANQO.  101 

the  oldest  station  in  north  Mexico,  having  been  founded  in  1585  by  a  Franciscan 
missionary.  This  "  ford,"  as  the  vrord  means,  was  formerly  much  frequented  by 
the  American  convoys  which  conducted  the  transport  service  across  the  western 
prairies  between  the  Missouri  and  Mexico,  but  it  gradually  lost  its  importance, 
owing  to  the  competition  of  the  ocean  highways.  Paso,  however,  has  acquired 
great  commercial  value  since  it  has  become  the  junction  of  the  four  railways 
running  to  San  Francisco,  to  New  York  through  Denver,  to  New  Orleans  and  to 
Mexico.  In  1889  its  exchanges  amounted  to  over  £4,000,000.  At  the  confluence 
of  the  Eio  Bravo  and  Conchos  river  stands  the  frontier  military  station  of 
Presidio  del  Norte,  which  lies  beyond  the  trade  routes,  and,  despite  its  strategic 
value,  has  never  risen  to  the  rank  of  a  town. 

In  the  hiUy  region  stretching  west  of  El  Paso  parallel  with  the  Rio  Bravo 
prehistoric  ruins  are  very  numerous ;  here  are  found  the  Casas  Grandcs,  "  great 
houses,"  of  Chihuahua,  the  largest  of  the  Nahua  settlements  whose  remains  stiU 
survive  in  the  northern  part  of  Mexican  territory.  All  that  now  remains  of  the 
ramparts  are  some  grassy  mounds  dominated  here  and  there  by  the  fragments  of 
crumbling  walls.  On  the  highest  mound  stood  the  ancient  temple,  and  here  has 
been  discovered  a  block  of  meteoric  iron  still  carefully  wrapped  in  cloth;  it 
was  probably  an  object  of  worship,  like  the  black  stone  at  Mecca. 

In  its  general  outlines  the  State  of  Durango,  lying  to  the  south  of  Chihuahua, 
presents  the  same  aspect  and  forms  part  of  the  same  geographical  region  that  was 
formerly  comprised  under  the  designation  of  Nueva  Vizcaya,  or  "  New  Biscay." 
The  settlers  are  to  a  large  extent  of  Basque  origin,  fully  as  energetic  and  indus- 
trious as  their  Iberian  ancestors.  In  this  part  of  the  republic  the  purely  European 
element  is  more  strongly  represented  than  elsewhere  in  Mexico.  Like  Chihuahua, 
Durango  comprises  on  the  west  the  parallel  ranges  of  the  Sierra  Madre,  and  on 
the  east  side  vast  arid  and  partly  desert  plains.  Consequently  here  also  the  chief 
towns  are  all  situated  in  the  western  section  along  the  foot  of  the  mountains. 
Durango,  however,  occupying  a  more  elevated  and  less  arid  part  of  the  plateau,  is 
also  more  fertile  and  relatively  more  densely  peopled  than  Chihuahua;  the  latter 
state  has  only  two,  the  former  from  four  to  six,  inhabitants  to  the  square  mile. 

Durango,  the  capital,  is  named  from  the  Basque  town  of  Durango,  having  been 
founded  in  the  j'ear  1551  as  a  strategic  post  in  the  territory  of  the  Chichimec 
Indians.  Standing  on  a  plateau  6,350  feet  high,  it  commands  a  superb  prospect 
of  the  most  diversified  character,  the  view  in  one  direction  sweeping  over  the 
gloomy  ravines  and  fantastic  gulches  of  the  Brena,  in  another  embracing  the 
highlands  crossed  by  the  highway  to  Mazatlan,  the  nearest  port  on  the  Pacific. 
Durango  is  famous  in  geological  records  for  its  meteoric  stones,  which  resemble 
those  found  in  many  other  parts  of  the  Sierra  Madre ;  one  block,  mentioned  by 
Humboldt,  is  said  to  weigh  from  sixteen  to  twenty  tons.  But  the  great  geological 
curiosity  of  Durango  is  its  huge  rock  of  native  iron,  the  Cerro  de  Mercado,  so 
named  from  a  captain  whom  the  hope  of  finding  gold  had  attracted  to  these  regions 
in  1562,  and  who  on  his  return  from  the  vain  quest  perished  in  a  conflict  with 
the  Indians.     This  mass  of  iron,  which  lies  over  a  mile  to  the  north  of  Durango, 


is  650  feet  high,  and  contains  above  ground  460,000,000  tons  of  metal,  enough  to 
supply  the  whole  of  North  America  for  a  hundred  years.  Like  Chihuahua, 
Durango  prides  itself  on  its  sumptuous  cathedral,  and  the  city  is  dominated  bv  an  old 
palace  of  the  Inquisition.  The  local  mint  issues  gold  and  silver  coins  to  a  yearly 
average  value  of  about  £200,000.  Durango  has  often  been  called  the  "  City  of 
Scorpions,"  and  in  1865  a  small  price  having  been  put  upon  these  arachnidse,  as 
many  as  55,000  were  brought  to  the  municipality  in  two  months. 

All  the  other  towns  in  the  state,  such  as  Mezquital,  Guarisamay,  San  Dlmas, 
Pajmsquiaro,  Tainazula,  and  Inde  in  the  highland  region,  and  Nombre  de  Bios,  San 
Juan  del  Rio,  Cueneame,  Nazas,  and  Mapimi  on  the  lower  parts  of  the  plateau,  owe 
their  origin  and  prosperity  to  their  silver  mines ;  but  the  deposits  also  contain  gold, 
lead,  and  tin. 

Extensive  burial- groimds  have  been  discovered  in  the  caves  amid  the  hills  and 
mountains  encircling  the  Bolson  de  Mapimi  wilderness.  In  these  graves  the  bodies 
are  buried  in  a  crouching  attitude,  and  are  wrapped  in  shrouds  of  agave  fibre  over 
which  are  wound  coloured  scarfs.  A  single  cave  contained  over  a  thousand  of 
these  mummies,  nearly  all  of  which  were  carried  off  by  American  explorers,  and 
distributed  amongst  various  collections  in  the  United  States. 

Noeth-Eastern  States — Coahuila,  Nuevo  Leon,  Tamaulipas. 

Coahuila,  which  is  conterminous  on  the  east  side  with  Chihuahua,  and  which,  like 
it,  is  separated  by  the  Rio  Bravo  from  the  United  States,  also  resembles  it  in  its 
general  relief.  Coahuila  has  also  its  Sierra  Madre,  but  on  the  opposite  or  east  side, 
while  westwards  it  expands  into  vast  desert  wastes,  where  the  running  waters  are 
lost  in  saline  meres  or  lagoons.  Th£  slopes  of  the  mountains,  which  are  drained 
by  streams  descending  from  gorge  to  gorge  down  to  the  Rio  Bravo,  are  disposed 
in  delightful  and  fertile  valleys  siutable  for  cultivating  all  the  plants  of  the  tem- 
perate and  sub-tropical  zones.  Yet  this  region  has  still  a  population  of  less  than 
two  to  the  square  mile,  and  till  recently  it  was  exposed  to  the  annual  incursions  of 
the  murderous  Apache  and  Comanche  marauders.  In  1879,  after  the  complete 
submission  of  these  ferocious  Indians,  a  large  number  of  immigrants  were  attracted 
to  the  Sierra  Mojada,  where  auriferous  silver  ores,  apparently  very  productive,  had 
lately  been  found.  But  the  hopes  of  the  specidators  were  not  realised,  and  most  of 
the  immigrants  were  compelled  by  the  lack  of  water  and  provisions  to  retire  from 
these  arid  uj^lands.  The  coalfields,  also,  which  skirt  the  course  of  the  Rio  Bravo, 
and  from  which  one  of  the  Mexican  riverain  stations  took  the  name  of  Piedras 
Negras,  or  "  Black  Stones,"  are  no  longer  systematically  worked.  The  future  wealth 
of  Coahiula  will  be  derived  not  from  its  mineral  stores,  but  from  the  produce  of 
the  soil.  Monclova,  formerly  Coahuila,  which  stands  on  a  headstream  of  the 
Salado  afiluent  of  the  Rio  Bravo,  is  surrounded  by  fertile  plains,  and  long  staple 
cotton  is  grown  at  Santa  Buenaventura  in  the  environs. 

Saltillo  {El  Saltillo  or  Leona  Vicar io),  capital  of  Coahuila,  lies  at  the  foot  of  a 
slaty  eminence  towards  the  south-east  corner  of  the  state,  in  an  upland  valley  on 
the  slope  of  the  mountains  separating  Coahuila  from  Nuevo  Leon.     The  running 

KUEYO  LEOX.  103 

waters  descending  from  the  sierra  flow  northwards  through  a  gorge  in  the  range 
to  the  San  Juan  affluent  of  the  Rio  Bravo.  Saltillo  was  founded  in  1586  by  the 
Spaniards,  who  placed  here  a  garrison  of  Tlaxcaltecs  to  defend  it  against  the  sur- 
rounding wild  tribes,  and  from  that  time  it  continued  to  be  the  chief  town  of  the 
province,  to  which  they  had  given  the  name  of  ^ew  Estremadura. 

Some  six  miles  farther  south,  the  highway  enters  an  angostum,  or  "  narrow 
pass,"  between  elevated  liiUs,  where  stands  the  famous  farmstead  of  Bitena  Vista. 
From  this  place  are  named  a  large  number  of  localities  in  the  United  States 
in  memory  of  the  two  days'  battle  fought  ia  1846  by  the  Americans  against  the 
Mexican  defenders  of  the  pass. 

Monterey,  capital  of  the  State  of  Nuevo  Leon,  is  one  of  the  old  cities  of 
ilexico,  its  foundation  dating  from  the  last  years  of  the  sixteenth  century.  The 
cirque  of  which  it  occupies  the  centre,  and  which  is  watered  by  the  little  Eio  Santa 
Catalina,  an  affluent  of  the  San  Juan,  is  surrounded  by  mountains  of  a  foi'bidding 
aspect,  with  bare  rocky  flanks  and  craggy  peaks.  Southwards  is  continued  the 
chief  range  of  the  Sierra  Madre ;  westwards  is  developed  the  Silla  or  "  Saddle  " 
ridge,  while  to  the  north  the  system  terminates  in  a  bluif  which,  from  its  peculiar 
shape,  takes  the  name  of  the  "  Mitre."  The  grey,  yellow,  and  red  flanks  of  the 
surrounding  hills  rise  to  a  height  of  from  1,600  to  2,600  feet  above  the  whole  town, 
which  is  encircled  by  a  zone  of  orchards  and  orange  groves.  Monterey  lies  still 
within  the  hot  zone  1,600  feet  above  the  sea,  with  long  sultrj-  summers  and  mild 
winters  free  from  snow.  Its  annual  fair,  held  in  the  month  of  September,  is  much 
frequented  both  by  Mexicans  and  Americans. 

The  well-cultivated  plains  of  the  irrigated  zone  in  Nuevo  Leon  yield  heavy 
crops  of  maize,  besides  wheat,  beans,  sugar,  oranges,  and  all  kinds  of  fruits.  From 
Monterey  and  the  other  agricultural  centres  of  the  state,  such  as  Cadereyta  Jimenez, 
Montemorelos,  Linares,  and  Doctor  Arroyo,  Tamaulipas  and  the  other  surroimding 
regions  draw  their  suppHes  of  alimentary  produce,  giving  in  exchange  horses  and 
cattle.  Thanks  to  the  industry  of  the  peasantry,  Nuevo  Leon,  though  not  always 
favoured  with  a  sufficient  rainfall,  has  flourished,  and  the  local  popidation  has 
increased  rapidly.  Its  present  density  is  about  eight  persons  to  the  square  mile, 
that  is  to  say,  four  times  more  than  that  of  the  other  states  of  North  Mexico. 

Monterey  forms  the  bidwark  of  the  republic  towards  its  north-west  frontier  : 
hence  ia  the  war  of  1846  the  .Americans  began  operations  by  seizing  this  strate- 
gical position.  Two  railways  converging  at  Monterey  connect  it  on  the  one  hand 
through  Nuevo  Laredo  on  the  Rio  Bravo  with  the  United  States  system,  on  the 
other  with  the  riverain  towns  of  2Iier,  Camarno,  Eeinosa,  and  Matamoros.  Thanks 
to  this  line  Monterey  has  become  the  Mexican  emporium  for  the  lower  valley  of  the 
Rio  Bravo.  Each  of  the  stations  on  the  right  bank  confronts  another  on  the  left 
through  which  the  American  traders  introduce  their  wares,  either  by  legitimate 
traffic  or  by  smuggKng.  The  two  lines  converging  at  Monterey  are  continued 
through  the  republic  by  the  grand  trunk  line  of  Mexico. 

Of  all  the  towns  in  the  State  of  Tamaulipas,  Matamoros  Kes  nearest  to  the 
mouth  of  the  Rio  Bravo.     Allowing  for  the  winding  of  the  river,  it  is  48  miles 


from  the  sea,  the  coast  route  having  had  to  be  constructed  at  some  distance  from 
the  Gulf  in  consequence  of  the  fringing  backwaters.  Matamoros  is  of  recent  origin, 
its  site  down  to  the  beginning  of  the  present  century  being  still  occupied  by  the 
hamlet  of  Congregacion  del  Refugio,  that  is,  the  "  Refuge  "  of  all  the  French  and 
Meisican  corsairs  scouring  the  surrounding  waters.  In  1825,  at  the  time  of  its 
official  foundation,  it  received  its  present  name  from  one  of  the  heroes  of  the 
Mexican  war  of  independence.  Soon  after  the  annexation  of  Texas  to  the  United 
States,  Matamoros  acquired  great  strategic  and  commercial  importance  as  a  frontier 
station  near  the  coast.  Its  outlet  near  the  mouth  of  the  Rio  Bravo  has  received 
the  ambitious  name  of  Bagdad,  which,  however,  is  scarcely  justified  by  this  humble 
coast  village.     The  bar  is  too  high  and  too  dangerous  to  admit  large  vessels. 

Beyond  Matamoros,  North  Tamaulipas  is  almost  uninhabited.  Nothing  is 
anywhere  to  be  seen  except  a  few  scattered  hamlets  and  vast  haciendas,  where 
thousands  of  horses  and  cattle  are  reared.  But  in  the  centre  of  the  state  a  con- 
siderable population  is  grouped  in  towns  and  villages,  which  owe  their  existence 
to  the  streams  descending  from  the  Sierra  Madre.  This  part  alone  of  Tamaulipas, 
that  is,  "Olive-land,"  justifies  its  name.  Here  is  Aguaijo,  capital  of  the  state, 
now  called  Ciiidad  Victoria.  It  lies  on  a  main  branch  of  the  Santander,  or  Marina, 
famous  in  Mexican  history  as  the  old  Rio  de  las  Palmas,  where  the  fleets  of  Graray 
and  Camargo  landed  at  the  time  of  the  conquest.  Here  also  the  ex-emperor 
Iturbide  attempted  to  re-enter  the  country  for  the  purpose  of  again  seizing  the 
reins  of  government ;  but  having  been  arrested  he  was  brought  to  the  village  of 
Padilla,  at  that  time  the  capital,  and  shot  by  order  of  the  Tamaulipas  congress. 

The  city  of  Tula,  which  lies  near  the  frontier  of  the  State  of  San  Luis  Potosi 
and  on  the  plateau  at  an  altitude  of  4,100  feet,  is  an  agricultural  centre,  whence 
large  supplies  of  maize,  beans  and  pimento  are  forwarded  to  the  lowlands. 
Although  founded  hi  the  middle  of  the  seventeenth  century,  Tula  of  Tamaulipas, 
like  the  Tula  of  Hidalgo,  has  replaced  an  ancient  city  where  have  been  discovered 
the  vestiges  of  temples  and  numerous  vases,  weapons,  implements,  and  other 
objects  of  the  pre-Columbian  age. 

The  route  leading  from  Tula  to  Tampico,  after  crossing  a  pass  4,800  feet  high, 
descends  to  Santa  Barbara,  beyond  which  it  rounds  the  base  of  the  Cerro  Bernal, 
a  nearly  isolated  mountain  of  a  perfectly  conic  shape.  Tampico  occupies  in  the 
south  of  Tamaulipas  a  geographical  position  somewhat  analogous  to  that  of 
Matamoros ;  it  stands  on  a  river  not  far  from  its  mouth,  and  is  surrounded  by 
extensive  low-lying  and  unproductive  plains.  The  present  city  dates  from 
the  year  1823,  when  the  Spaniards  still  held  the  fortress  of  San  Juan  d'Ulua, 
which  commands  Vera  Cruz,  and  which  consequently  obliged  Mexico  to  seek 
new  outlets  for  its  foreign  trade.  The  old  town  lies  within  the  State  of  Vera 
Cruz  on  a  thick  bank  of  upheaved  shells,  and  on  a  shallow  creek  accessible  only 
to  craft  of  light  draft.  Another  Tampico  occupies  the  site  of  an  old  Huaxtec 
village  amid  the  dunes  east  of  the  Tamiahua  lagoon.  The  new  town,  though 
better  situated  on  the  chief  river  a  short  distance  below  its  confluence  with  the 
Tamesi  and  six  miles  from  the  sea,  is  not  accessible  to  large  vessels;  those  drawing 



more  thau  eight  or  nine  feet  have  to  remain  outside  the  bar,  where  they  are 
exposed  to  the  winds  and  surf.  But,  higher  up,  the  river  is  navigable  for  small 
steamers  some  30  miles  above  its  mouth.  The  trade  of  Tampico  has,  at  different 
times,  tmdergone  great  vicissitudes  ;  it  was  enriched  at  the  expense  of  Vera  Cruz 
whenever  this  place  was  blockaded  or  occupied  by  foreign  powers ;  at  other  times 
it  was  itself  deprived  of  its  export  trade  in  consequence  of  local  revolts  or 
political  strife.  Eecently  a  large  share  of  the  American  traffic  has  been  diverted 
from  this  port  by  the  opening  of  the  continuous  railway  from  the  States  through 
Paso  del  Xorte  to  ilexico ;  but  it  has  again  recovered  its  commercial  importance 

Tig.  41.— Tamkco. 
Scale  1 :  130,000. 


West   oF    G'-ee''vv1c^^ 



5  to  10 

10  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

.  3,300  Yards. 

since  the  construction  of  the  railway  connecting  this  port  through  San  Luis  Potosi 
with  the  Mexican  system.  Several  lines  of  steampackets  also  connect  Tampico 
with  the  other  large  seaports  on  the  Gulf  and  in  the  Caribbean  Sea,  as  well  as 
with  Xew  York,  Liverpool,  Havre  and  Hambiu-g. 

Some  30  nules  above  Tampico,  and  on  the  right  bank  of  the  Panuco,  or 
"Ford,"  stands  the  village  of  Panuco,  formerly  San  Edehan  del  Puerto,  which 
recalls  the  memory  of  the  Huaxtec  kingdom  conquered  by  Cortes,  and  so  cruelly 
laid  waste  by  Xuno  de  Guzman.  The  whole  district  is  still  but  thinly  inhabited 
compared  to  its  flourishing  condition  before  the  arrival  of  the  Spaniards.  Higher 
up  on  an  affluent  of  the  Panuco  stands  Tamquian,  a  town  of  Huaxtec  origin,  where 


archsDologists  have  made  ntunerous  finds,  especially  of  monos,  or  "monkeys,"  that 
is,  rude  himian  figures. 

I>aAND  States — Zacatecas,  Aguascalientes,  San  Lris  Potosi. 

The  central  or  "inland"  states,  which  rise  in  terraces  towards  the  southern 
extremity  of  the  Anahuac  tableland,  are  relatively  to  their  size  far  more  densely 
peopled  than  the  northern  provinces  ;  the  greater  diversity  of  their  relief,  more 
abundant  supply  of  water  and  more  exuberant  vegetation,  enable  them  to  support  a 
far  larger  number  of  inhabitants.  Yet  the  same  arid  aspect  of  the  northern 
regions  is  still  maintained  without  much  modification  as  far  as  the  central  parts  of 
Zacatecas  and  San  Lms  Potosi.  Numerous  local  names,  such  as  Rio  Salado,  Salitre, 
Laguna  Seca,  Pozo  Hondo,  sufficiently  attest  the  arid  nature  of  the  soil  and  the 
brackish  quality  of  its  waters,  while  many  villages  owe  their  designation  of  Mez- 
quite  or  Mezquital  to  the  thickets  of  thorny  scrub  by  which  they  are  surrounded. 
The  traveller  arriving  from  the  United  States  by  the  Central  Mexican  Eailway 
detects  no  marked  change  in  the  scenery  until  he  reaches  the  town  of  Fresnillo. 
This  place  stands,  in  fact,  at  an  altitude  of  7,300  feet,  exactly  on  the  divide  between 
the  waters  flowing  north  to  the  closed  basins  of  the  Bolson  de  Mapimi,  and  those 
draining  to  the  Pacific  through  the  Rio  Lerpia. 

Zacatecas,  capital  of  the  state  and  of  the  old  Zacatec  territory,  is  one  of  the 
earliest  Spanish  settlements  in  Mexico,  having  been  founded  by  Nuho  de  Guzman 
in  1540.  The  city  occupies  a  group  of  deep  and  winding  gorges,  which  are  com- 
manded on  the  north-east  by  the  porphyritic  escarpments  of  La  Bufa  surmounted 
by  a  citadel  and  a  church.  Zacatecas  is  hemmed  in  between  other  rocky  ramparts 
furrowed  by  crevasses,  whence  the  rain-water  descends  in  cascades  to  swell  a  rising 
tributary  of  the  Lerma.  Zacatecas  owes  its  prosperity  to  the  silver  mines  of  the 
surroimding  porphyritic  and  schistose  mountains  interspersed  with  quartz  and 
calcareous  beds.  Some  of  the  lodes  are  extremely  rich,  and  those  of  San  Bernab, 
worked  for  three  hundred  and  fifty  years,  are  not  yet  exhausted.  The  most  pro- 
ductive are  usually  found,  not  in  the  ravines  or  on  the  gentle  slopes  of  the  hills, 
but  in  the  steepest  places  and  even  on  the  jagged  topmost  crests.  Thus  the  reta 
grancle,  or  "  great  lode,"  running  north-west  and  south-east,  three  miles  north  of 
Zacatecas,  is  embedded  in  a  lofty  summit  8,650  feet  high,  on  which  are  perched 
the  dwellings  and  workshops  of  a  mining  village.  Since  1810  the  Zacatecas  mint 
has  coined  a  sum  of  over  £68,000,000  in  gold  and  silver,  and  during  the  decade 
from  1878  to  1888  the  average  yearly  issue  has  been  £1,150,000,  almost  exclu- 
sively in  silver  doUar  pieces.  The  little  mining  town  of  Somhrerete,  lying  about 
125  miles  north-west  of  Zacatecas,  on  the  Durango  road,  had  also  Its  mint,  which, 
however,  has  been  closed  since  the  war  of  independence.  At  the  time  of  Hum- 
boldt's \'isit  the  "  black  lode  "  of  Somhrerete  had  j'ielded  more  metal  than  anj'  other 
vein  in  the  whole  of  America.  A  village  not  far  from  Somhrerete  bears  the  name 
of  Chakhihuites,  or  "  Emeralds,"  from  the  greenish  stones  here  found,  which 
resemble  jade,  and  which  were  highly  valued  by  the  ancient  Aztecs.  The  Zaca- 
tecas district  abounds  in  natural  curiosities.      Several  small  lakes  contain  carbonate 



of  soda,  and  some  of  these  tarns  are  like  deep  natural  wells  with  vertical  walls,  in 
which  the  water  rises  and  falls  according  to  the  seasons,  but  never  runs  dry.  Hot 
springs  bubble  up  in  several  places,  especially  near  the  town  of  OJo  Caliente,  south- 
east of  Zacatecas. 

The  capital  of  Aguascalientes  ("Thermal  "Waters"),  a  small  state  almost  entirely 
enclosed  in  that  of  Zacatecas,  has  also  its  thermal  mineral  waters,  which  are  sul- 
phurous at  a  temperature  of  from  77°  to  95°  F. 

Fig.  42. — Zacatecas. 
Sc.ile  1  :  110,000. 

i      '  % 

Fl     r  dd 



102^0'  West    oF    Grcpnw  rh 


3,  300  Yards. 

Near  Villanueva,  some  30  miles  south-west  of  Zacatecas,  stands  a  hiU  of  tufa 
naturally  carved  into  circular  cliffs,  which  give  it  the  appearance  of  a  fortified 
plateau.  This  eminence  is  crowned  with  a  group  of  structures,  which  must  have 
formerly  presented  an  imposing  effect,  and  amongst  which  archaeologists  have 
identified  palaces  and  other  dwellings,  a  citadel,  a  temple,  and  a  pyramid  bearing 
the  statue  of  a  god.  But  the  finest  remains  on  this  "  Cerro  de  los  Edificios  "  are 
a  series  of  steps,  on  which  the  spectators  assembled  in  thousands  to  contemplate 


the  public  feasts  and  sacrifices,  but  where  the  solitary  traveller  now  surveys 
nothing  but  ruins  overgrown  with  scrub.  Traces  of  these  buildings  are  met  strewn 
over  a  space  of  70  square  miles.  According  to  Clavigero,  the  Cerro  de  los  Edificios 
is  the  famous  Chicomoztoc  of  the  Nahua  legends,  that  is,  the  "Seven  Caves," 
whence  the  Aztecs  set  out  on  their  wanderings  to  the  Anahuac  plateau.  Another 
ancient  city,  formerly  capital  of  the  confederation  of  the  Nayarit  people,  lies  60  miles 
south-west  of  the  Qitemada,  as  the  ruins  are  called,  in  a  lateral  valley  of  the  Lerma. 
Here,  also,  are  seen  the  remains  of  a  fortress  and  a  temple  overlooking  the  plain  ; 
Teul,  the  name  of  the  old  city,  is  the  same  as  Teol,  the  Aztec  title  of  the  sun-god. 

The  State  of  San  Luis  Potosi  resembles  that  of  Zacatecas  in  its  physical 
appearance  and  the  disposition  of  its  two  watersheds,  one  inclining  towards  the 
northern  depressions,  the  other  facing  the  GuK  of  Mexico,  and  comprised  within 
the  Panuco  basin.  Like  Zacatecas,  it  is  also  one  of  the  most  productive  mining 
regions  in  the  republic.  But  its  agricultm-al  and  industrial  importance  is  increasing 
from  year  to  year,  and  these  sources  already  yield  a  larger  income  than  its  argenti- 
ferous ores.  Even  the  city  of  Caiorce,  although  lying  in  the  arid  northern  part 
of  the  state  at  an  altitude  of  8,850  feet,  has  discovered  a  considerable  source  of 
wealth  in  the  preparation  of  the  ixtli  fibre.  Nearly  all  the  silver  coined  in  the 
San  Luis  mint,  from  two  to  three  million  dollars  a  year,  comes  from  the  Catorce 
mines.  The  city,  which  is  said  to  take  its  name  from  the  massacre  of  Catorce 
("fourteen")  soldiers,  lies  in  a  narrow  gorge  on  a  mass  of  rocky  debris  formed  by 
an  old  landslip ;  its  foundation  dates  from  the  discovery  in  1773  of  the  rich  lodes 
in  the  neighbouring  mountain,  the  pyramidal  double- crested  Cerro  del  Fraile. 

San  Luis,  distinguished  from  so  many  other  places  of  the  same  name  by  the 
epithet  of  Potosi,  indicating  its  great  mineral  wealth,  no  longer  deserves  Its  title 
since  the  famous  San  Pedro  mine  and  most  of  the  surrounding  deposits  have 
been  abandoned.  The  city  stands  on  the  site  of  the  ancient  Tangamanga  of  the 
Chichimecs,  in  a  depression  on  the  edge  of  the  plateau  6,230  feet  above  sea-level, 
whence  the  running  waters  flow  through  the  Rio  Verde  to  the  Panuco.  San  Luis 
is  so  completely  embowered  in  a  zone  of  gardens  and  jjlantations  that  nothing  is 
visible  from  a  distance  except  the  domes  of  the  numerous  churches  rising  above 
the  surrounding  verdure.  Like  Monterey,  Chihuahua,  and  some  other  places,  the 
capital  of  the  State  of  San  Luis  Potosi  was  for  a  time  the  seat  of  the  Mexican 
Government  during  the  French  invasion.  It  had  already  lost  half  of  its  popula- 
tion, owing  to  the  exhaustion  of  the  mines  to  which  it  owed  its  prosperity  in  the 
eighteenth  century.  The  ojjening  of  the  railway  between  Vera  Cruz  and  Mexico 
also  diverted  much  of  its  trade  southwards,  causing  a  further  decrease  of  popula- 
tion. But  the  new  line  to  Tampico  has  at  last  given  it  a  direct  outlet  seawards, 
and  this  cannot  fail  to  be  followed  by  a  revival  of  its  languishing  trade  and 
industries.  The  district  yields  an  abundance  of  cereals,  fruits,  vegetables,  textile 
fibres,  and  fermented  drinks  extracted  from  the  maguey  or  other  plants  of  the 
same  family.  The  citizens,  noted  for  their  enterprise  and  energetic  habits,  look 
forward  to  the  time  when  San  Luis  will  take  the  second  rank,  if  it  docs  not  rival 
Mexico  itself  in  commercial  importance. 



All  the  other  more  populous  and  flourishing  towns  of  the  state,  such  as  Rio 
Verde,  Santa  Maria  del  Rio,  Ciudad  del  Mais,  are  situated  on  the  south-eastern 
slopes  of  the  plateau  facing  towards  Tampico.  The  mining  town  of  Guadakazur, 
which  lies  in  a  limestone  dista-ict  to  the  north-east  of  San  Luis,  is  a  decaved  place, 
while  Salinas,  to  the  north-west,  as  indicated  by  its  name,  abounds  in  salt-mines 
and  saline  lagoons,  the  most  actiTely  worked  in  the  rcpublci. 

GrANAJXTATO,  J.VLISCO  A^•D  Tepic,  Colima,  Michoacax. 

The  political  divisions  of  the  diSerent  states  are  far  from  coinciding  with  their 
natm-al  Kmits.  This  is  largely  due  to  the  fact  that  the  present  frontiers  were 
fixed  by  the  Spanish  administration  according  to  the  disti'ibution  of  the  tribes 

Fig.  43. — Sax  Lrrs  Potosi— Goveejckest  Paiace. 

and  languages,  religious  or  executive  considerations,  and  especially  the  interests 
of  the  great  European  or  Creole  landed  proprietors. 

Kevertheless  a  certain  accidental  coincidence  may  occur  between  the  political 
boundaries  and  physical  conditions  of  the  various  provinces.  Thus  the  four  States 
of  Guanajuato,  of  Jalisco  with  the  Tepic  territory,  of  Colima  and  ITichoacan, 
constitute  a  sufficiently  distinct  natural  region,  comprising  the  basins  of  the  Eio 
Lerma  and  other  streams,  which  flow  from  the  western  slope  of  the  Anahuac 
plateau  down  to  the  Pacific.  These  regions,  where  the  hot,  temperate  and  cold 
climates  are  disposed  in  vertical  order  one  above  the  other,  possess  a  great 
abundance  of  different  products.  But  they  do  not  yet  enjoy  the  same  facilities 
of  communication  as  the  eastern  slope  of  the  Mexican  tableland,  the  seaports  on 
the  Pacific  side  not  being  yet  connected  with  the  general  railway  system.     The 


population,  however,  which  has  considerably  increased  during  the  last  few  decades, 
is  relatively  dense,  averaging  nearly  forty  to  the  square  mile. 

Of  these  states  Guanajuato,  which  lies  nearest  to  the  capital,  is  best  provided 
with  communications  and  has  been  longest  settled  by  the  whites  ;  hence  it  is  also 
the  richest  and  the  most  thickly  peopled  in  proportion  to  its  extent.  Guanajuato, 
its  capital,  stands  at  an  altitude  of  6,700  feet  in  a  deep  and  narrow  gorge  flanked 
by  bare  jagged  cliffs,  and  accessible  only  by  a  single  winding  path.  Here  the 
houses  with  their  flat  roofs  rise  one  above  another  like  a  heap  of  dice  piled  up 
in  disorder.  The  mining  villages  are  grouped  here  and  there  along  the  escarp- 
ments, and  the  workshops  are  scattered  over  the  terraces  and  in  the  depressions. 
One  of  these  industrial  centres  is  the  famous  Vaknciana,  where  the  reta  madre, 
or  main  lode  of  Guanajuato,  nowhere  less  than  30  and  ia  some  places  over  160 
feet  thick,  constitutes  an  enormous  mass  of  argentiferous  ores,  which,  between  the 
years  1768  and  1810,  gave  an  annual  yield  of  over  £1,520,000.  This  is  the 
deepest  mine  in  Mexico,  having  been  worked  down  to  2,000  feet  below  the  surface. 
But  since  the  war  of  independence  it  has  been  flooded,  and  more  than  one  English 
company  has  in  vain  attempted  to  resume  operations,  yet  the  lode  is  still  supposed 
to  contain  from  £280,000,000  to  £320,000,000  of  silver. 

La  Luz,  a  to-mi  h'ing  a  short  distance  to  the  north-west  in  the  group  of  the 
Gigante  or  "Giant"  Mountains,  is  also  surroimded  bj'  mineral  deposits.  At 
present  the  Guanajuato  mint  yearly  issues  specie  to  the  value  of  £950,000,  of 
which  £160,000  in  gold,  the  rest  silver,  nearly  all  derived  from  the  surrounding 
mines.  These  Guanajuato  mines  have  become  famous  in  physiography  for  the 
subterranean  rumblings  often  heard  in  them.  In  1784  they  were  so  violent  that 
the  terrified  inhabitants  took  to  flight,  although  the  underground  thunders  were 
accompanied  by  no  earthquakes.  One  of  the  neighbouring  hills  takes  the  name 
of  the  Bramador,  or  "Roarer."  Guanajuato  is  one  of  the  historic  cities  of  the 
war  of  independence.  Here  the  insurgents,  aided  by  about  20,000  Indians  and 
armed  only  mth  knives  and  sticks,  gained  their  first  victory ;  the  plunder  was 
enormous,  about  £1,000,000  having  been  taken  in  the  citadel  alone.  The  little 
town  of  Dolores,  whose  parish  priest  was  Hidalgo,  leader  of  the  insurrection,  lies 
some  25  miles  north-east  of  Guanajuato ;  since  the  revolution  it  has  taken  the 
name  of  Dolores  Hidalgo. 

Guanajuato  is  rivalled  in  population  by  Loon  de  los  Aldamas,  which,  like  the 
capital,  lies  on  an  upper  affluent  of  the  Pao  Lerma,  but  in  a  far  more  accessible 
position  and  under  a  more  agreeable  climate.  The  citj',  which  is  dominated  on 
the  north  bj'  the  group  of  the  Giant  Mountains,  spreads  over  a  fertile  and  well- 
cultivated  plain  at  the  north-west  extremity  of  the  alluvial  zone,  which,  under  the 
name  of  Bajio,  sweeps  in  crescent  form  right  across  the  wliole  State  of  Guanajuato. 
Leon,  which  despite  its  large  size  has  never  ranked  as  a  capital,  possesses  nume- 
rous factories,  and  here  are  specially  produced  the  rich  saddles  and  trappings  so 
much  affected  by  the  Mexican  cavaliers.  The  railway  which  traverses  the  Bajio 
zone,  and  one  branch  of  which  runs  to  Guanajuato,  passes  close  to  nearly  all  the 
important  towns  of  the  state.    Such  are  Silao,  dominated  by  the  Sierra  de  Cubilete, 







:' •••••'/' /to'-'**' 


Vx  *v/v..4N^  •  * 

.^^*  *      «t«       ••*       »•» 


and  rich  in  silver-mines  and  thermal  springs  ;  Ii-apuato ;  Salamanca  with  its  cotton 
mills;  Celaija,  a  watering- place  and  a  manufacturing  centre,  producing  cloth, 
carpets,  soaps  and  leather.  San  Miguel  Allende,  or  simply  Allende,  another  indus- 
trial town,  dating  from  the  first  years  of  the  conquest,  lies  on  a  plain  to  the 
east  of  Guanajuato,  while  Salvaticrra  and  Vallc  Santiago  occupy  depressions 
in  the  lake-studded  plateau  which  stretches  southwards  in  the  direction  of 

The  Eio  Lerma,  which  at  Salamanca  enters  the  formerly  lacustrine  basin  of  the 
Bajio,  sweeps  southwards  round  the  San  Gregorio  heights,  and  then  traverses  a 
second  very  broad  valley  before  losing  itself  in  Lake  Chapala.  La  Piedad  and 
La  Barca,  both  surrounded  by  numerous  hamlets,  have  sprung  up  on  the  banks  of 
the  river,  and  in  the  interior  towards  the  south  stands  the  town  of  Ixtlan,  with  its 
hundreds  of  mud  volcanoes  dotted  over  the  plain.  Westwards  along  the  banks 
of  the  great  lake  there  are  no  large  towns.  Chapala  itself,  which  lies  on  the 
north  side,  is  an  obscure  place,  remote  from  all  the  highways  of  communication. 

East  of  this  town  is  seen  the  island  of  Mexcal,  which  is  identified  with  the 
mythical  Azflan,  whence  the  Nahuas  trace  their  origin.  In  1812  the  Indians 
of  the  surrounding  shores  took  refuge  in  this  island  under  one  of  their  priests, 
and  here  defended  themselves  for  five  years  against  all  the  attacks  of  the 

Guadalajara,  capital  of  Jalisco,  lies  some  twelve  miles  from  the  left  bank  of 
the  Lerma,  at  an  altitude  of  5,120  feet,  on  a  plateau  watered  only  by  a  few  inlets. 
Founded  in  1542,  it  has  always  been  one  of  the  chief  cities  of  Mexico,  thanks  to 
its  geographical  position  at  the  converging-point  of  the  highways  ascending  from 
the  Pacific  seaports  towards  the  plateau.  Its  population  has  increased  from  20,000 
at  the  beginning  of  the  century  to  over  100,000  ;  it  has  thus  greatly  outstripped 
the  Spanish  city  from  which  it  has  been  named.  As  a  mining  centre  Guadalajara 
cannot  be  compared  with  Zacatecas  or  Guanajuato  ;  nevertheless  its  mineral  wealth 
is  considerable,  for  the  local  mint  annually  coins  silver  pieces  to  the  value  of  from 
£240,000  to  £280,000.  But  Guadalajara  takes  the  second  place  amongst  Mexican 
cities  as  an  agricultural  and  manufacturing  centre,  being  noted  especially  for  its 
rehozos  and  other  textiles,  its  paper,  starch,  cigars,  metal  and  glass  wares,  and 
sweetmeats  of  all  sorts.  The  springs  which  suppKed  the  city  having  proved 
insufficient  for  the  rapidly  increasing  population,  it  has  been  proposed  to  supply 
it  with  water  by  a  canal  derived  from  the  Rio  Lerma  above  the  Juanacatlan  Falls ; 
this  aqueduct  might  also  be  so  constructed  as  to  furnish  motive  power  for  the 
workshops  of  the  city. 

The  pleasure  resorts  of  the  wealthy  classes  of  Guadalajara  are  for  the  most 
part  scattered  over  the  San  Pedro  hills,  some  miles  from  the  city.  Towards  the 
east  the  Rio  Lerma,  here  540  feet  wide,  is  crossed  by  the  bridge  of  Totolotlan,  a 
work  dating  from  the  Spanish  period.  Farther  on  the  route  is  carried  over  a 
northern  affluent  of  the  Lerma  by  the  famous  bridge  of  Calderon,  where  the  insur- 
gents met  their  first  reverse  in  a  battle  which  was  long  supposed  to  be  decisive.  In 
the  neighbourhood,  between  the  towns  of  Zapotlanejo  and  Tepatitlan,  is  still  seen  the 



ruined  pyramid  of  a  temple  known  as  the  "  Cerrito  de  Montezuma."  On  an 
affluent  of  the  Lerma,  north-east  of  Guadalajara,  stands  the  town  of  Lcir/os,  in  an 
angle  of  the  state  midway  between  Aguascalientes  and  Guanajuato.  Thanks  to 
its  geographical  position  Lagos  promises  to  become  the  common  emporium  of 
several  of  the  upland  states  ;  its  markets  are  already  much  frequented,  though  to 
a  fiir  less  extent  than  the  annual  fairs  of  the  neighbouring  San  Juan  de  los  Lagos, 
which  lies  at  a  much  lower  elevation  in  a  depression  of  the  valley.  Bolanos.  a 
smaller  place  than  Lagos  but  formerly  more  important  as  a  mining  centre,  also 
lies  on  a  northern  affluent  of  the  Lerma,  the  Rio  Jerez,  but  in  a  region  of  difficult 
access  at  the  outlet  of  a  formidable  gorge  dominated  by  jagged  rocky  walls.     South 

Fig.  44.— San  Bias. 
Scale  1 :  700,000. 


West  6?   Greenwich 




5  to  12 


12  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

12  MUea. 

of  Bolanos  and  beyond  the  Lerma,  the  town  of  Tequila  stands  at  the  foot  of  a  high 
precipitous  clilf  ;  this  place  is  famous  for  its  maguey  brandy,  commonly  known  as 

The  town  of  Topic,  capital  of  a  separate  territory,  lies  like  Guadalajara  some 
distance  to  the  south  of  the  Rio  Lerma,  the  lower  course  of  which  it  may  be  said 
to  command.  Its  prosperity  is  due  to  the  salubrity  of  its  position,  3,000  feet 
above  sea-level,  in  the  midst  of  gardens  and  orchards,  and  on  the  edge  of  a 
volcanic  plateau  within  sight  of  the  Pacific  Ocean.  It  thus  serves  as  a  health 
resort  for  the  ports  of  this  malarious  seaboard,  on  M^hich  are  deposited  the  alluvia 
of  the  Rio  Lerma.     When  the  conqueror,  Nuuo  de  Guzman,  took  possession  of  this 

JAUSCO.  118 

region,  he  selected  another  site  some  twelve  miles  farther  south,  but  also  on  the 
edge  of  the  plateau,  and  at  the  same  distance  from  the  coast.  Here  was  foimded 
the  town  of  Compostela,  which  was  long  the  strategic  centre  of  the  whole  of  west 
Mexico,  but  which  is  now  a  decayed  village.  The  old  Indian  city  of  Jalisco,  which 
has  given  its  name  to  the  state  whose  capital  is  Guadalajara,  lies  four  or  five  miles 
to  the  south  of  Tepic  on  the  slopes  of  the  igneous  Cerro  San  Juan. 

At  the  issue  of  the  mountain  gorges,  where  the  Eio  Lerma,  called  also  Rio 
Grande  de  Santiago,  debouches  on  the  low-h-ing  coastlands,  stands  Santiago,  now 
a  mere  village  of  no  maritime  importance  ;  large  vessels  can  no  longer  force  the 
dangerous  bar  to  ascend  the  course  of  the  river  to  any  inland  port.  Hence  San  Bias, 
the  present  port  of  the  Lerma  basin,  lies  to  the  south  of  the  allu^dal  plain,  not 
far  from  the  escarpments  of  the  Sierra  de  Tepic.  Foi-merly  one  of  the  lateral  branches 
of  the  Lerma  discharged  into  the  San  Bias  harbour,  but  it  was  obstructed  during 
the  war  of  independence,  and  since  then  it  has  remained  closed.  The  port  is  well 
sheltered  from  the  winds ;  but  the  approach  is  narrow,  and  has  a  depth  of  less  than 
thirteen  feet  at  low  water.  But  such  as  it  is,  San  Bias  is  the  most  frequented 
seaport  on  the  west  coast  of  Mexico  between  Mazatlan  and  Acapulco.  The  old 
town  stood  above  the  harbour  on  a  bluff  of  black  basalt,  accessible  only  from  the  land 
side.  Since  its  destruction  during  the  ci^il  wars,  it  has  remained  a  mere  ruin 
almost  entirely  overgrown  with  vegetation.  The  present  San  Bias,  which  lies  on 
the  coast,  consists  of  a  group  of  houses  and  cottages  shaded  by  cocoanut  groves 
and  inhabited  chiefly  by  people  of  colour. 

The  Eio  Ameca,  which  discharges  into  Banderas  Bay  south  of  San  Bias,  has 
given  its  name  to  the  chief  town  in  its  basin.  Ameca  and  the  neighbouring  Cocula, 
lying  in  an  extremely  fertile  district  studded  with  lakes  and  dried-up  lacustrine 
depressions,  will  one  day  present  a  shorter  route  from  the  coast  to  Lake  Chapala 
than  the  loundabout  road  rxinning  north  by  Tepic  and  Guadalajara.  But  Ban- 
deras Bay  is  everywhere  exposed  to  the  surf,  and  the  town  of  Mascota,  occupj-- 
ing  a  sheltered  position  in  a  glen  at  the  foot  of  the  Bufa  de  San  Sebastian  cliffs, 
has  no  haven  on  this  inhospitable  seaboard.  The  nearest  anchorage  is  that  of  the 
little  port  of  Chamela,  over  60  miles  farther  south. 

South  of  Lake  Chapala,  the  two  industrial  and  pictui-esque  towns  of  Sai/iila 
(4,420  feet)  and  Zapotlan  (4,3'20  feet),  the  latter  called  also  Ciudad  de  Guzman, 
form  convenient  stations  on  the  route  leading  fi-om  Guadalajara  to  CoUma.  This 
provincial  capital,  formerly  Santiago  de  los  Cabal! eros,  was  foanded  by  Cortes  in 
the  first  years  of  the  conquest,  at  an  alti^ade  of  1,485  feet,  on  the  advanced  spurs 
of  the  hills  which  form  the  pedestal  supporting  the  two  volcanoes  of  "  Fire  "  and 
"Snow."  A  river,  whose  nimierous  feeders  descend  from  the  deep  gorges  scoring 
the  flanks  of  the  moimtains,  passes  to  the  west  of  Colima,  irrigating  its  gardens, 
coffee,  sugar,  and  cotton  plantations.  So  favourable  are  the  conditions  of  soil  and 
climate  that  the  plains  of  Colima  might  become  one  of  the  most  productive  regions 
in  the  world  under  a  less  primitive  system  of  husbandry. 

The  future  railway,  by  which  these  fertile  plains  are  to  be  connected  with  the 
general  Mexican  system,  has  already  made  a  beginning  with  a  coastline  which 

VOL.  x^^I.  I 



runs  from  Jtlanzanillo,  tlie  port  of  Colima,  along  a  strip  of  sand  on  the  south  side 
of  the  Cuyutlan  lagoon.  This  shallow  basin  is  entirely  dry  during  the  hot  season, 
and  it  is  now  proposed  to  place  it  in  constant  communication  with  the  sea  by 
cutting  a  canal  through  the  narrow  intervening  neck  of  land.  The  port  of 
ManzaniUo,  which  is  developed  in  the  rocky  coast  immediately  to  the  west  of  this 
sandy  isthmus,  is  spacious,  deep,  and  well  sheltered  from  aU  winds  except  those 
blowing  from  the  west  and  south-west.  These  prevail  especially  during  the  rainy 
season,  from  May  to  October,  that  is  to  say,  the  healthy  period  of  the  j'ear  ;  but 
during  the  dry  season  the  climate  of  ManzaniUo  is  much  dreaded.  Some  sixty 
miles  south-east  of  this  plain  lies  the  little  port  of  Maniata,  which,  while  quite  as 

Fig.  45. — Mauzanillo. 
S(ale;i :  1,110,000. 


West   oF  Greenwich 



25  to  60 


50  to  100 

100  to  500 

18  Mfles. 

unhealthy,  is  even  more  exposed  than  ManzaniUo.     The  coast  salines  between 
these  two  ports  occupy  during  the  season  from  5,000  to  6,000  native  hands. 

The  State  of  Michoacan  is  one  of  those  regions  that  have  long  resisted  assimila- 
tion with  the  rest  of  Mexico.  The  Tarascan  nation  had  never  been  subdued  by  the 
Aztecs,  and  their  chief  bore  the  title  of  "  Booted  "  in  a  pre-eminent  sense,  because,  of 
aU  native  princes,  he  alone  had  the  right  of  wearing  his  boots  in  the  presence  of 
Montezuma.  Proud  of  their  ancient  Uberties,  the  Tarascans  had  at  first  welcomed 
the  Spaniards  as  mere  aUies,  and  three  hundred  years  later,  during  the  war  of 
independence,  no  other  Indian  warriors  displayed  greater  valour  and  steadfastness 
against  the  disciplined  troops  of  Europe.  It  was  in  the  town  of  Apacinffan,  in  one 
of  the  low-lying  fluvial  valleys  converging  ou  the  Eio  Mexcala,  that  was  held  the 




v/        •• 



densely-peopled  region  in  tlie  republic.  Here  the  population  is  in  the  proportion 
of  about  C4  to  the  square  mile,  so  that  the  centre  of  gravity  of  the  Mexican 
nation  has  not  been  shifted  since  the  epoch  of  Toltec  civilisation,  that  is  to  say, 
for  a  period  of  at  least  a  thousand  years.  This  centre,  however,  could  scarcely  be 
removed  to  any  other  region,  such  as  Durango  and  Zacatecas,  possessing  greater 
mineral  resources,  or  Michoacan  and  Oaxaca,  enjoying  the  advantage  of  a  more 
exuberant  vegetation  ;  for  the  Anahuac  tableland  has  the  still  greater  advantage 
of  being  the  natural  converging-point  of  all  the  routes  coming  from  the  north 
between  the  Mississippi  and  the  Rocky  Mountains,  while  at  the  same  time  com- 
manding like  a  citadel  both  slopes  of  the  country. 

The  State  of  Queretaro,  where  rise  the  first  headstreams  of  the  Panuco,  is  of 
relatively  small  extent.  Its  northern  section,  also,  where  are  situated  the  towns 
of  JaljKtn,  Tollman,  and  Cadereijta,  is  but  sparsely  peopled,  most  of  the  inhabitants 
being  concentrated  in  the  southern  division,  where  begin  on  the  one  hand  the 
great  plain  watered  by  the  Bajio  tributary  of  the  Rio  Lerma,  and  on  the  other  the 
headwaters  of  the  Rio  San  Juan,  a  main  branch  of  the  Panuco.  In  this  valley  Lies 
the  town  of  San  Juan  del  Bio,  a  delightful  "  city  of  gardens."  Queretaro,  which 
gives  its  name  to  the  state,  is  situated  at  an  altitude  of  7,000  feet,  close  to  the 
Avaterparting  between  the  two  slopes.  Its  foundation  is  attributed  by  historians 
to  the  Otomi  people ;  but  although  it  is  said  to  date  from  the  middle  of  the 
fifteenth  century,  all  its  buildings  are  of  Spanish  origin.  Of  these  the  most 
remai'kable  is  an  aqueduct  of  seventy-four  arches,  rising  about  80  feet  above  the 
ravine.  A  reservoir,  recently  constructed  above  the  city,  contains  a  volume  of 
over  35,000,000  cubic  feet  of  water.  Queretaro  is  one  of  the  industrial  towns 
of  Mexico,  being  noted  especiallj^  for  its  soaps,  cigars,  and  cotton  yarns ;  the 
spinning-mills  occupy  thousands  of  native  artisans.  About  half  a  mile  west 
of  the  city  is  situated  the  Cerro  de  las  Campanas,  on  the  slope  of  which  is  the 
little  monument  of  three  stones,  indicating  the  spot  where  the  ill-fated  emperor 
Maximilian  and  his  two  generals,  Miramon  and  Mejia,  were  shot  in  1867. 

The  state  bearing  the  name  of  Hidalgo,  in  memory  of  the  priest  who  first 
siunmoned  the  Mexicans  to  rise  against  Spain,  is  of  recent  formation.  Here  the 
towns,  such  as  Zimapan,  Jacala,  Mextitlan,  and  Huejutla,  the  ancient  city  of  the 
Huaxtec  nation,  all  stand  at  considerable  distances  one  from  the  other.  Thus 
the  population  is  centred  chiefly  in  the  extensive  fertile  plains  of  the  south,  which 
are  enclosed  by  a  highly  productive  hilly  mineral  region.  Here  lies,  not  far  from 
Actopan  and  the  fantastic  "Organ"  Mountains,  the  capital,  Paehuea,  an  ancient 
city,  now  connected  by  a  branch  line  with  the  Mexican  railway  system ;  in  the 
neighbourhood  are  the  gold  and  silver  mines,  which  were  already  worked  by  the 
natives  in  pre-Columbian  times.  The  mining  district  of  Regla,  between  Pachuca 
and  Atotonilco,  has  become  famous  under  the  name  of  Real  del  Monte,  recently 
changed  to  Mineral  del  Monte.  Vast  quantities  of  silver  were  extracted  from  these 
deposits  before  the  mines  were  ruined  by  inundations  and  the  biu'uing  of  the 
surrounding  forests.  Since  the  war  of  independence,  the  works  have  been 
reopened  bj'  Cornish  master-miners,  who  now  employ  thousands  of  native  hands. 






'.•.♦/ 1 

' '( ■. 



•  ».•- 



•  »o 



'•  •  * 

#  •  •' 



.•  Vi 




monly  knovm,  even  during  the  first  years  of  the  Spanish  conquest,  by  the  name 
of  Tenochtitlan,  or  "  Nopal  Stone  ;  "  in  fact,  its  arms,  now  adopted  by  the  republic, 
represent  a  stone  rising  above  a  lake,  and  bearing  a  nopal  tree,  on  which  an 
eagle  has  alighted.  The  European  city  has  sprung  up  precisely  on  the  site  of 
Montezuma's  capital.  During  the  siege  of  Mexico,  Cortes  systematically  destroyed 
every  block  of  buildings,  in  order  to  deprive  the  advancing  enemy  of  all  cover. 
Eut  when  he  rebuilt  the  city  in  1522,  he  followed  exactly  the  original  plan,  street 
for  street,  quarter  for  quarter,  every  Spanish  barrio  thus  succeeding  every  Mexican 
calimlU.  The  centre  of  the  ancient  city  in  this  way  became  the  great  plaza,  or 
square,  and  the  cathedral  rose  on  the  site  of  the  chief  temple  dedicated  to  the  god 

Kg.  46. — Ancient  Mexico. 
Scale  1  :  400,00(1. 

.  a  Milea. 

of  war.  The  city  of  Tlateloko,  which  had  originally  formed  a  sort  of  trading 
quarter  distinct  from  the  military  city  of  Tenochtitlan,  was  also  absorbed  in  the 
New  Mexico.  It  stood  on  the  ground  at  present  occupied  by  the  northern  quarter. 
But  although  standing  on  the  site  of  the  ancient  Aztec  capital,  the  aspect  of  the 
modern  Mexico  has  been  so  completely  changed  that  its  former  inhabitants  could 
no  longer  recognise  it.  Tenochtitlan  was  essentially  a  lacustrine  city,  entirely 
surrounded  by  water,  and  connected  with  the  mainland  by  causeways  and  embank- 
ments. But  the  waters  have  now  subsided  sufficiently  to  leave  the  new  capital 
high  and  Avj,  and  even  surroimded  by  a  grassy  zone.  The  causeways  formerly 
traversing  the  lake  have  become  highways,  and  the  canals  in  the  interior  have 
been  filled  up  and  transformed  to  avenues.  Seen  fi'om  a  distance,  the  federal 
capital  presents  an  imposing  ai^pearauce.     This  white  city,  overtopped  by  domes 




and  pinnacles,  spreading  widely  over  tte  vast  plain,  and  bounded  in  the  hazy 

distance  by  an  amphitheatre  of  majestic  monntains,  harmonises  completely  with 


the  natural  enTironment.  The  traveller,  viewing  it  from  some  commanding  site, 
might  weU  be  tempted  to  exaggerate  the  part  played  in  history  by  a  city  occupying 
such  an  imposing  position.  "  "We  stood  rapt  in  amazement,"  exclaimed  Bernal 
Diaz.  "  "We  declared  that  the  city  resembled  those  enchanted  abodes  described  in 
the  book  of  Amadis,  and  some  of  our  men  asked  whether  the  vision  was  not  a 

Mexico  is  laid  out  with  great  regularity,  the  streets,  mostly  too  narrow,  being 
disposed  at  right  angles,  Uke  those  of  Chicago  and  Philadelphia ;  but  this  monoto- 
nous arrangement  is  somewhat  broken  by  the  squares  and  gardens  occurring  at 
intervals.  The  houses,  with  their  terraced  roofs  and  inner  courts  Uke  those  of 
eastern  cities,  are  solidly  built  with  a  yellowish  sandstone,  or  a  red  lava  called 
tezontle,  and  are  usually  of  only  one  storey,  the  better  to  resist  the  slight  but  some- 
what frequent  earthquakes.  In  the  centre  of  the  city  is  situated  the  great  square 
(plaza),  where,  are  celebrated  all  public  solemnities,  and  where  converge  the  currents 
of  business  and  pleasure,  alternating  with  the  hours  of  the  daJ^  On  one  side  of  the 
square  stands  the  cathedral,  which  replaces  the  church  erected  by  Cortes  on  the 
spot  where  stood  the  teocaUi,  or  temple  of  the  war-god,  ever  reeking  with  the  blood 
of  human  victims.  The  very  pillars  of  the  new  edifice  rested  on  the  great  idols,  in 
order  that  they  might  be  for  ever  crushed  by  the  indestructible  column  of  the  holy 
Christian  religion.  The  present  church,  which  took  nearly  a  centiiry  to  build,  is 
a  sumptuous  monument  of  imposing  appearance,  and  to  it  is  attached  the  Sagrario, 
another  church  with  a  fa9ade  as  luxuriously  carved  and  sculptured  as  a  Hindoo 
palace.  A  second  side  of  the  plaza  is  occupied  by  the  National  Palace,  which  is 
said  to  have  been  erected  on  the  site  of  Montezuma's  palace.  It  is  a  vast  building, 
with  a  frontage  considerably  over  220  yards  long,  and  containing  the  senate,  the 
Government  offices,  the  ministries,  besides  the  post  office,  museum,  and  library. 
The  other  two  sides  of  the  square  are  skirted  chiefly  by  houses  with  porfa/es,  or 
arcades,  where  there  is  a  constant  movement  of  loungers,  pedestrians,  and  itine- 
rant dealers.  In  the  middle  of  the  square  is  the  fine  promenade  of  the  Zocalo,  or 
"  Socle,"  shaded  with  the  eucalyptus,  and  adorned  with  flower  beds,  fountains, 
and  statues. 

In  the  Mexican  museum  are  preserved  valuable  natural  history  collections, 
amongst  which  are  those  fossils  which  the  conquerors  supposed  to  be  the  "bones 
of  giants,"  but  which  are  now  known  to  be  the  remains  of  large  animals  belonging 
to  the  quaternary  fauna.  Still  more  interesting  is  the  archaeological  collection, 
comprising  such  antiquities  as  escaped  the  iconoclastic  fury  of  the  first  conquerors 
and  the  research  of  foreign  collectors.  Here  is  the  precious  "  Mexican  Calendar," 
on  which  is  sculptured  the  division  of  time  according  to  the  ingenious  Aztec 
system.  It  is  a  huge  block  weighing  21  tons,  which  must  have  been  brought 
from  a  groat  distance,  for  no  rocks  of  the  same  geological  formation  occur  in  the 
neighbouring  mountains.  The  "  Stone  of  Tizoc  "  (p.  71),  which  represents  the  pro- 
cession of  people  vanquished  by  that  hero,  and  which  was  long  supposed  to  be  the 
"  stone  of  sacrifice  "  belonging  to  the  great  temple,  is  another  treasure  preserved 
in  this  museum,  where  may  also  be   seen  the  hideous  statue  of  Huitzilopochtli, 


"god  of  war,"  hieroglypliic  paintings,  Montezuma's  shield,  and  the  effigies  of 
several  deities.  Every  year  adds  to  the  contents  of  the  National  Museum,  and 
systematic  explorations  made  in  the  groimd,  and  especially  in  the  lacustrine 
depressions,  cannot  fail  to  reveal  numerous  other  treasures.  Mexico  already 
possesses  some  large  scholastic  establishments,  notably  a  school  of  medicine  now 
installed  in  the  old  palace  of  the  Inquisition,  and  a  preparatory  school  occupying  the 
old  convent  of  the  Jesuits.  Aztec  literature  is  studied  in  a  college  founded  for 
the  Indians ;  several  learned  and  literary  societies  publish  useful  memoirs ;  the 
chief  library  has  over  150,000  volumes;  the  picture-gallery  is  one  of  the  richest 
in  the  Xew  World. 

The  population  of  Mexico  has  increased  fivefold  since  the  beginning  of  the 
century ;  nevertheless  it  has  already  been  outstripped  by  many  cities  of  more 
recent  origin.  A  himdred  years  ago  it  was  the  largest  place  in  the  New  "World  ; 
now  it  is  exceeded  not  only  by  Xew  York  and  several  other  cities  in  the  United 
States,  but  also  by  some  of  its  rivals  in  Latin  America.  Xevertheless,  Mexico, 
situated  on  the  "  bridge  of  the  world  "  between  the  two  oceans,  is  assuredly  one 
of  the  vital  points  of  the  planet,  one  of  those  points  whose  historic  importance 
cannot  fail  to  advance  with  the  general  progress  of  the  world.  It  has  doubtless 
lost  the  trade  between  the  Philippines  and  Spain  which  it  had  formerlv  enjoyed 
through  colonial  monopolies  ;  but  on  the  other  hand  the  internal  traffic  has  greatly 
developed.  Bernal  Diaz  already  remarked  that  "  no  European  city  possessed  a 
market  comparable  to  that  of  the  Anahuac  capital ;  at  least  none  possess  such  a 
fruit  market,  where  are  seen  in  abundance  the  products  of  every  zone — cherries  and 
pears  side  by  side  with  pineapples  and  bananas."  One  of  the  most  curious  sights 
in  Mexico  is  that  presented  every  morning  on  the  Tiga  Canal  by  the  flotillas  of 
boats  ladened  with  flowers,  fruits  and  vegetables.  The  wholesale  import  trade  is 
almost  entirely  in  the  hands  of  English,  American,  German,  French  and  other 
foreign  traders.  These  industrious  strangers  have  nearly  all  acquired  a  position  of 
comfort,  while  the  native  population  of  mendicants,  feperos,  pelados  or  pordioseros, 
still  swaiTns  in  the  suburbs. 

Despite  the  pure  air  descending  fi-om  its  snowy  mountains,  Mexico  is  not  a 
healthy  place.  The  mortality,  which  in  certain  years  has  exceeded  the  births 
four  times,  averages  from  32  to  33  per  thousand,  which  is  much  higher  than 
that  of  London,  Paris,  and  most  other  cities  of  West  Europe.  This  high  death- 
rate  is  due  mainly  to  the  impurity  of  the  soil  and  waters.  Mexico  stands  only  a 
few  inches  above  the  level  of  Lake  Texcoco,  with  a  subsoil  of  impermeable  argil- 
laceous deposits  :  hence  the  least  excavation  on  the  surface  of  the  ground  becomes 
at  once  flooded  with  a  brackish  water  saturated  with  organic  substances.  The 
gradual  upheaval  of  the  bed  of  Lake  Texcoco  threatens  destruction  to  the  city,  which 
has  already  been  more  than  once  laid  under  water.  After  every  downpour,  the 
streets  are  filled  with  slush,  and  when  the  rains  last  long  enough  the  whole  place 
becomes  transformed  to  a  swamp  or  even  to  a  veritable  quagmire.  The  roadways 
are  also  badly  kept,  while  the  drains,  flooded  with  an  almost  stagnant  water,  con- 
tribute much  to  the  putrefaction  of  the  soil.  "The  city  is  threatened  with  asphyxia," 



is  an  expression  occurring  in  a  report  on  the  sanitary  state  of  the  place.  But  if 
foul  water  abounds  in  Mexico,  the  pure  water  brought  from  a  distance  by 
aqueducts  is  far  from  sufficient  for  the  wants  of  the  people ;  in  1882  it  was  scarcely 
880,000  cubic  feet  per  day,  or  less  than  twentj'  gallons  per  head  of  the  population. 
The  drainage  of  the  subsoil  itself  presents  grave  difficulties ;  by  carrying  off  the 
overflow,  which  gives  consistency  to  the  marshj'  ground,  the  b\xildings  are  apt  to 
lose  their  centre  of  gravity  and  to  topple  over  at  the  least  vibration  of  the  surface. 
The  gradual  drying  up  and  shrinking  of  the  land  has  already  caused  rents  and 
fissures  in  most  of  the  large  structures,  while  others  have  sunk  several  feet  in  the 

Fig.  48. — 3IEX1C0   AND   IT3   ENnEOXMESTS. 
Scale  1 :  120,000. 


Wast    oF    Gree 

.  3,300  Tarda. 

oTOund.  It  is  now  regretted  that,  in  order  to  secure  his  triumph,  Cortes  decided 
to  rebuild  the  city  exactly  on  the  site  of  the  old  capital,  and  lay  the  foimdations  of 
his  churches  on  the  temples  of  the  gods,  instead  of  selecting  a  new  position  on  the 
more  elevated  land  which  stretches  westwards  to  the  neighbouring  mountains. 
The  wealthy  quarters,  however,  are  already  stretching  out  in  this  direction.  Certain 
villages,  such  as  Casablanca  and  Tacuhaya,  where  the  national  observatory  has  been 
established,  are  gradually  expanding  and  becoming  connected  with  the  capital  by 
avenues  lined  with  buildings.  Mexico  is  thus  steadily  moving  westwards  towards 
the  less  tainted  rising  groimds.  The  city  is  adorned  with  some  fine  promenades, 
such  as  the  Paseo  and  the  Alameda,  where  a  fountain  Indicates  the  site  of  the 
ancient  Quemadero,  that  is,  the  "  burning-place,"   of  the  Inquisition.     Victims  of 







ginous  waters,  are  crowned  by  the  church  of  Guadalupe,  formerly  one  of  the 
richest  in  the  world,  but  now  spoiled  of  its  treasures  bj'  the  National  Government. 
The  Virgin  of  Guadalupe  is  the  special  patron  of  the  Indians,  while  Our  Lady 
de  los  Eemedios  was  formerly  regarded  as  the  tutelar  saint  of  the  Spaniards. 
Under  the  old  regime  an  incessant  struggle  was  carried  on  between  the  devotees 
of  the  two  sanctuaries ;  but  the  war  of  independence  secured  the  definite  triumph 
of  Guadalupe,  so  that  religion  and  patriotism  are  now  merged  in  a  single  cult. 

On  the  west  side  of  Lake  Texcoco,  east  of  the  capital,  a  volcanic  eminence 
rises  above  the  saHne  waste,  which  is  made  a  receptacle  for  the  refuse  of  the 

Fig.  49. — Tlaxpam  and  Lake  Xochtmilco. 

Scale  1  :  190,000. 

Ixtapalapa  '' 

Mexicalcin^o       ■- 

Reyes  l\T>-  ..j^*^^ts. 



West    op   GreenwicK 


3  Miles. 

neio-hbouring  towns.  The  Pefion  de  los  BanbS,  as  this  eminence  is  called,  is  the 
source  of  a  copious  ferruginous  spring,  and  here  geologists  have  found  some 
fossil  human  remains. 

The  Viga  Canal,  whose  waters  reach  the  capital  at  its  south-east  extremity, 
is  derived  from  Lake  Xochimllco,  or  the  "Flower-garden,"  one  of  the  southern 
basins  of  the  Mexican  valley.  This  canal  traverses  a  low-h-ing  district  cultivated 
by  Indian  market- gardeners,  and  their  plots  are  commonly  designated  by  the 
same  term,  chinampas,  which  was  also  applied  to  the  floating  islands  of  the  Aztecs, 
formerly  moored  in  hundreds  on  the  surface  of  Lake  Texcoco.  But  Lake  Chalco, 
or  the  "  Emerald,"  forming  an  eastern  continuation  of  Xochimilco  and  encircling 
a  cone  with  a  perfectly  regular  crater,  bears  in  this  respect  a  much  more  close 



resemblance  to  the  Texcoco  of  Montezuma  ;  in  the  middle  of  the  marshy  depres- 
sion maj"  still  be  seen  numerous  other  cbinampas,  resting  on  matted  beds  of 
aquatic  plants  and  covered  with  soil  brought  from  a  distance.  But  these  plots, 
which  are  intersected  by  acalotes,  or  trenches,  are  not  supported  by  movable 
rafts ;  on  the  contrary,  they  gradually  form  compact  masses  attached  to  the  shore 
and  steadilj'  encroaching  on  the  lacustrine  basin.  Ixtapalapa,  or  "TThite  Town," 
formerly  a  great  ilexican  citj'  with  ''fifteen  thousand  houses,"  accordiiig  to  Cortes, 
stands  near  the  head  of  the  Yiga  Canal  at  Lake  Xochimilco,  tinder  the  EslreUa 
or  "  Star "  peak,  famous  in  the  religious  history  of  Mexico.     Here  the  priests 

Fisr.  50. — IxBiAN  Maekei-Gabdesee's  Caxoe. 

assembled  at  the  end  of  every  cycle  of  52  years  in  order  to  keep  up  the  succession 
of  time  by  solemnly  opening  a  new  cycle.  Facing  the  capital  at  a  distance  of 
sixteen  miles  in  a  straight  line  on  the  opposite  side  of  the  lake  is  seen  the  now 
obscure  town  of  Texcoco,  which  preceded  Mexico  and  which  was  long  its  rival. 
Texcoco  was  the  ancient  residence  of  the  Toltec  chiefs  and  the  "  Athens "  of 
Anahuac,  for  here  the  Xahuatl  language  was  spoken  in  its  greatest  purity  and 
elegance.  Texcoco  has  the  advantage  over  Mexico  of  beiag  built  on  healthy 
groimd  above  the  level  of  the  highest  inimdations.  The  Puerto  de  las  Brigantinas, 
that  is,  the  spot  where  Cortes  built  a  flotiUa  to  reduce  Mexico,  Ues  now  consider- 
ably over  a  mile  from  the  margin  of  the  lake.  North  of  Texcoco  stands  the 
still  more  ancient  city  of  Otamh,i,  formerly  Oiompan,  which  would  appear  to  have 


been  the  capital  of  the  Otomi  nation  before  the  arrival  of  the  Toltecs  on  the 
Anahuac  plateau;  it  was  on  the  plains  of  Otumba  that  Cortes  by  a  decisive 
victory  repaired  the  disaster  of  the  "  Sorrowful  Night."  Otumba  and  its  eastern 
neighbours,  Irolo  and  Apam,  surrounded  by  the  most  productive  maguey  planta- 
tions in  the  republic,  are  important  strategical  points  guarding  the  entrance  to 
the  plains  north  of  the  snowy  Ixtaccihuatl  range.  The  migrations  of  conquering 
or  vanquished  peoples  must  for  the  most  part  have  passed  through  this  gateway, 
the  possession  of  which  was  in  former  times  frequently  contested.  Eut  it  was 
avoided  by  Cortes,  who  boldly  ventured  to  cross  the  great  range  directly  by  the 
Ahualco  pass  between  Ixtaccihuatl  and  Popocatepetl.  Practicable  tracks  may 
also  be  found  by  rounding  the  southern  flanks  of  this  mountain  through  the 
village  of  Amccameca,  which  encircles  the  old  eruptive  cone  of  Sacro  Monte,  now 
overgrown  with  oak-trees.  Near  the  gorge  of  Apam,  or  between  Texcoco  and 
Otumba,  there  still  stand  two  temples  which  are  supposed  to  have  been  erected 
by  the  Totonacs ;  these  are  the  two  pyramids  of  Teotihuacan  {TeutUhuacan) ,  or 
"Abode  of  the  Gods,"  which  are  known  as  the  "House  of  the  Sun"  and  "  House 
of  the  Moon."  Reduced  to  the  condition  of  mere  mounds  overgrown  with  agave 
and  thorny  scrub,  they  are  now  diiflcult  to  recognise  as  human  structures.  Never- 
theless the  explorations  made  on  the  spot  leave  no  doubt  as  to  their  artificial 
character.  The  first  or  southern  pyramid  is  the  broadest  and  highest,  forming 
a  square  of  700  feet  and  180  feet  high ;  the  second,  that  of  the  Moon,  is  both 
much  smaller  and  36  feet  lower,  and  both  face  the  cardinal  points,  though  not 
with  mathematical  accuracy. 

Farther  south  other  mounds  are  scattered  over  the  plain,  in  some  places 
numerous  enough  to  form  avenues,  such  as  the  "Way  of  tke  Dead,"  so  named 
either  because  these  knolls  are  really  old  burial-places,  or  because  it  indicates  the 
route  formerly  followed  by  the  processions  of  human  victims  on  their  way  to  the 
sacred  slaughter-houses.  East  of  Apam  the  plateau  rolls  away  to  the  southern 
foot  of  a  border  range  inhabited  by  a  population  of  Totonac  miners,  who  are 
chiefly  grouped  round  the  towns  of  Zacatlan  and  Tetcia  del  Oro.  On  this  plateau 
stands  the  town  of  Tlaxdo,  and  farther  south  in  a  narrow  glen  is  seen  Tlaxcala, 
formerly  capital  of  the  brave  republic  which  espoused  the  cause  of  Cortes  against 
Montezuma.  At  present  it  is  the  chief  town  of  a  small  state,  which  about  coin- 
cides with  the  limits  of  the  old  republic,  and  which  is  dominated  eastwards  by 
the  Malinche  volcano.  But  Tlaxcala  is  no  longer  the  great  city  which  could  at 
one  time  marshal  100,000  warriors  against  the  invader.  Another  decayed 
Mexican  city  is  Huexotzingo,  which  was  founded  by  the  Olmecs,  and  which  is 
constantly  mentioned  in  the  reports  of  the  conquerors. 

In  this  district  the  most  important  place  at  present  is  Puehla  de  los  Angeles, 
"  Angel  Town,"  which  was  built  by  the  Spaniards  on  an  uninhabited  jjlain  in  the 
year  1530  as  a  residence  for  those  whites  who  had  been  left  unprovided  for  in  the 
distribution  of  ofiices  after  the  conquest.  This  flourishing  citj',  capital  of  a  thickly 
peopled  state  on  the  plateau  and  the  first  slopes  facing  the  Pacific  and  Atlantic, 
is  sometimes  called  the  "  second  capital  of  the  republic."     Under  the  ephemeral 



reign  of  Maximilian  there  was  even  a  question  of  removing  the  administration  to 
Puebla,  which  enjoys  a  far  more  healthy  climate  and  lies  in  a  more  fertile  region 
than  Mexico.  It  stands  at  an  altitude  of  7,160  feet,  that  is,  something  less  than 
the  federal  capital,  on  an  inclined  plain,  whose  rapid  streams  flow  westwards  to 
the  Mexcala,  which  winds  away  to  the  Pacific.  All  these  rivulets  are  fed  by  the 
melting  snows,  and  serve  to  irrigate  the  surrounding  plains,  which  yield  abundant 
crops  of  all  sorts.  Dominated  by  the  two  square  towers  of  its  sumptuous  cathedral 
and  by  the  belfries  of  over  fifty  churches,  Puebla  was  formerly  inhabited  by  a 
fanatical  population  extremely  hostile  to  strangers  ;  more  than  once  travellers  had 
to  seek  the  protection  of  the  troops  to  avoid  being  stoned  as  "  Englishmen," 
"  Jews  "  or  "  heretics."  The  place  is  noted  especially  for  its  rcbozos,  or  scarfs,  its 
cotton  yarns,  and  for  the  preparation  of  little  figures  in  wax  or  alabaster,  sculptured 
vases,  onyx  stands,  and  similar  objects  connected  principally  with  church  decora- 
tion. Lying  about  midway  between  Mexico  and  the  edge  of  the  plateau,  Puebla 
formerly  stood  on  the  main  route  of  nearly  all  the  transit  traflac  between  the  inte- 
rior and  Vera  Cruz.  But  it  has  lost  this  commanding  position  since  the  opening 
of  the  main  railway  from  Vera  Cruz  to  the  capital,  though  still  connected  with 
the  general  system  by  branches  running  eastward,  west  of  the  Malinche  volcano- 
Puebla  owes  its  prosperity  to  its  great  agricultural  resources.  It  also  promises  to 
become  a  much-frequented  health  resort,  especially  for  strangers  suffering  from  aifec- 
tions  of  the  chest ;  in  the  neighbourhood  are  copious  sulphurous  thermal  springs, 
which  probably  owe  their  special  properties  to  the  volcanic  deposits  of  Popocatepetl. 
The  two  steep  hills  of  Guadalupe  and  Loreto,  rising  north-east  and  north  of  Puebla, 
recall  the  two  most  important  military  events  in  the  modern  records  of  the  nation. 
During  the  war  undertaken  against  Mexico  for  the  restoration  of  the  monarchy, 
General  de  Lorencez,  after  forcing  the  passes  and  reaching  the  edge  of  the  plateau  at 
the  head  of  6,000  men,  had  sent  off  a  despatch  announcing  that  he  was  already  "master 
of  Mexico."  But  right  in  front  of  Puebla  he  found  the  route  blocked  by  a  force 
of  12,000  troops,  under  Zaragoza,  which  held  possession  of  the  city  and  of  the  two 
fortified  convents  on  the  hills.  The  attack  made  on  May  5th,  1862,  ended  in  failiu'e, 
and  the  French  invading  army  had  to  retreat  to  the  lower  slopes  of  the  plateau. 
Next  year  an  army  20,000  strong  again  advanced  on  Puebla,  and  began  a 
regular  siege  of  the  place.  The  investment  lasted  62  days,  during  which  the 
Mexican  garrison  defended  every  post  and  station,  yielding  only  after  exhausting 
ammunition  and  supplies,  and  then  partly  dispersing  to  join  the  troops  that  held 
the  plains. 

Although  a  large  place,  Puebla  is  still  inferior  in  size  to  the  famous  city  of 
Cholula,  which  formerly  stood  in  the  neighbourhood.  This  holy  city  of  the  Olmecs 
and  later  of  the  Aztecs,  at  one  time  centre  of  the  textile  and  pottery  industries 
of  Anahuac,  and  founder  of  the  colonies  as  far  south  as  Nicaragua,  is  now  an  obscure 
village  and  railway-station  eight  miles  from  Puebla  on  the  opposite  side  of  the 
deep  gorge  traversed  by  the  Rio  Atoyac.  Chiirultecal,  as  Cortes  calls  it,  is  described 
by  him  as  containing  20,000  houses  in  the  central  part,  and  an  equal  number 
in  the  outskirts.        "Prom  the  summit  of  one   of  the   temples,"  he  adds,   "I 



Fig.  51.— PUEBLA  IN   1862. 
Scale  1  ;  120,000. 

have  counted  over  400  towers,  all  belonging  to  other  sanctuaries."  But  a 
few  days  after  contemplating  this  panoramic  view,  the  conqueror  began  the 
work  of  destruction  by  fire  and  sword.  Of  the  400  temples  nothing  now 
remains  except  a  few  shapeless  mounds  covered  with  vegetation.  But  one  of 
these  Ij'ing  to  the  south-east  of  the  city  is  a  veritable  hill  of  bricks  and  layers  of 
earth,  as  shown  by  the  explorations  and  the  cuttings  made  for  the  road  and  the 
railway  passing  at  its  foot.  According  to  the  local  tradition  this  hill  was  con- 
structed by  order  of  a  giant  in  honour  of  the  god  Tlaloc,  who  had  saved  him  from 
a  deluge,  and  all  the  bricks  used  in  the  building  were  passed  from  hand  to  hand 
by  a  string  of  workmen  reaching  all  the  way  from  the  slopes  of  Popocatepetl 
to  Cholula.  Its  present  height,  though  greatly  diminished  as  shown  by  the 
irregular  sky-line,  is  175  feet  above  the  plain,  while  its  enormous  base  covers  an 

extent  of  42  acres,  nearly  four 
times  more  than  that  of  the 
pyramid  of  Cheops.  No  other 
isolated  human  monument 
approaches  these  vast  propor- 
tions. The  platform  on  the 
summit,  where  the  chapel  of 
Our  Lady  de  los  Eemedios 
now  replaces  Quetzalcoatl's 
temple,  has  an  area  of  about 
5,000  square  j'ards,  forming  a 
stupendous  esplanade  whence 
the  eye  glances  from  the  vil- 
lage and  gardens  of  Cho- 
lula to  the  glittering  domes  of 
Puebla,  from  the  forest-clad 
slopes  of  Malinche  to  the  snows 
of  Popocatepetl. 

Before  the  construction  of 
the  Yera  Cruz  railway  Puebla 
had  as  its  outpost  towards  the  Atlantic  the  town  oiAmozoc,  at  the  converging  point 
of  the  roads  to  Jalapa  and  Orizaba.  Tepeaca,  a  little  farther  on  near  the  outer  ram- 
parts of  the  plateau,  also  possessed  great  strategical  importance,  and  Cortes  himself 
had  chosen  this  place  as  a  stronghold  and  Spanish  colony  under  the  name  of  Segura 
de  la  Frontera,  "  Safeguard  of  the  Frontier."  Next  to  Vera  Cruz,  Tepeaca  was  the 
earliest  Spanish  foundation  in  Mexico.  This  angular  corner  of  the  plateau  has 
suffered  a  loss  of  trade  since  the  main  line  of  the  Mexican  railways  passes  farther 
north  by  Iluamantla  and  San  Andres  de  Cliakhicomula,  the  station  dominated  by 
the  cone  of  Orizaba.  Near  Chalchicomula,  on  the  very  edge  of  the  plateau,  the 
station  of  Usperaiiza  lies  about  midway  on  the  main  line  between  Mexico  and 
Vera  Cruz.  Although  occupying  a  part  of  the  plateau  draining  to  the  Pacific, 
neither  Puebla  nor  Cholula  is  connected  by  railway  with  that  ocean.     But  the 

98' 14'  West   oF  Gree-^-iCh 

98°  10' 

.  a,300  Yards. 

YEEA  CEUZ.  129 

locomotive  has  already  descended  to  the  temperate  zone  on  this  slope,  reaching 
Matamoros  de  Izucar  through  AtUxco,  where  is  seen  a  cypress  74  feet  in  circum- 
ference. Towards  the  south-east  angle  of  the  state  another  line  runs  from  the 
plateau  down  to  Tehuacan,  or  Teotihuacan,  "  City  of  the  Gods,"  whose  sumptuous 
temples  were  compared  by  the  Spaniards  to  the  palaces  of  Grenada. 

Teea  Crvz. 

This  state  occupies  all  the  hot  zone  skirting  the  Gulf  of  Mexico,  besides  a  part 
of  the  temperate  lands,  from  the  Rio  Panuco  to  the  Eio  Tonala  beyond  Coatzacoalcos. 
It  thus  extends  north-west  and  south-east  a  total  distance  of  about  410  miles.  Despite 
the  marvellous  fertility  of  its  upland  districts,  which  lie  half-way  up  the  slope,  and 
are  well  exposed  to  the  fogs  and  rains  of  the  Atlantic,  Vera  Cruz  is  not  one  of  the 
populous  states  of  the  confederacy ;  within  its  limits  are  comprised  some  forest 
lands,  as  well  as  sandy,  desert,  or  marshy  tracts.  The  capital  has  often  been 
displaced,  and  the  city  which  gives  its  name  to  the  state  was  itself  for  some  years 
the  seat  of  the  government.  Orizaba  also,  for  a  time,  held  the  same  position, 
which  at  present  is  enjoyed  by  Jahpn.  This  place  stands  on  the  slope  of  the 
extinct  ilacuiltepec  volcano,  which  is  furrowed  by  deep  gorges.  Formerly  it 
occupied  the  rim  of  a  plateau,  also  scored  by  eroded  gullies.  But  according  to 
the  local  tradition,  the  inhabitants  of  this  first  Jalapa  were  so  decimated  by  the 
epidemic  of  1537  that  they  left  the  place  in  a  body,  and  settled  a  little  distance 
off  on  a  sunny  slope  on  the  opposite  side  of  a  neighbouring  gorge.  The  new  city, 
with  its  regular  streets  winding  amid  the  gardens,  is  one  of  the  healthiest  places 
in  Mexico.  From  its  superb  avenues  is  unfolded  a  magnificent  prospect,  embracing 
on  the  one  hand  the  forest-clad  heights  of  the  CordiUera  from  the  Orizaba  peak 
to  the  Cofre  de  Perote,  on  the  other  stretching  over  the  orchards  and  meadows  of 
the  meandering  Eio  San  Juan  vaUey,  and  again  in  the  far  east  to  the  strip  of  dunes 
fringiug  the  blue  Atlantic  waters.  Although  a  small  place,  Jalapa  is  one  of  the 
most  important  historic  cities  in  Mexico.  It  occupies  a  station  which  is  indispens- 
able to  all  invading  armies,  to  all  travellers  and  traders  journeying  between  the 
coast  and  the  plateau.  Formerly,  when  the  commercial  monopoly  belonged  to 
Cadiz,  and  when  the  trade  with  Europe  was  limited  to  a  fleet  forwarded  every  four 
years,  Jalapa  was  the  great  market-place  for  the  distribution  of  the  imports  and 
the  purchase  of  Mexican  produce  ;  hence  its  title  of  Jalapa  de  la  Feria,  or,  as  we 
should  say,  "  Market-Jalapa."  It  has  now  lost  this  commercial  role,  but  it  is  still 
a  health  resort,  at  once  a  hospital  and  a  convalescent  home  for  the  people  of  the 
lowlands.  The  yellow  fever  has  never  reached  Jalapa,  which  as  a  sanatorium  is 
not  only  extremely  salubrious,  but  also  possesses  in  the  neighbourhood  numerous 
efficacious  mineral  waters,  hot  and  cold,  saline  and  sulphurous.  The  numerous 
•products  of  the  district  surrounding  Jalapa,  Ciudadde  las  Flores,  "  City  of  Flowers," 
fnuts,  cereals,  and  vegetables,  serve  mainly  for  the  local  consumption  ;  it  exports 
little  beyond  its  medicinal  plants,  especially  the  root  of  ipomea  purga,  which  bears 
the  name  of  this  place.     The  plant  is  collected  by  the  Indians  of  the  surrounding 

VOL.    XVII.  K 


communes,  especially  Chiron- Quiaco,  a  village  which  lies  20  miles  farther  north, 
and  the  products  of  which  are  the  most  highly  esteemed. 

Jalapa  is  connected  with  the  Mexican  railway  sj'stem  by  a  branch  which  skirts 
the  north  side  of  the  Co/re  de  Fcrofc,  and  then  traverses  the  little  town  of  that 
name.  Here  is  a  magnificent  and  apparently  impregnable  citadel,  which  was 
built  at  a  great  expense  by  the  Spanish  viceroys  for  the  purpose  of  guarding  the 
highway  between  Vera  Cruz  and  Mexico.  Merely  to  keep  it  in  repair  cost  over  a 
million  dollars  yearly.  But  it  may  now  be  easily  turned,  and  the  citadel  of  Perote, 
deprived  of  its  strategic  importance,  has  been  transformed  to  a  state  prison. 

Coafejyec,  which  lies  in  the  midst  of  orchards  and  plantations  some  nine  miles 
south  of  Jalapa,  is  also  a  favourite  resort  of  the  coast  people.  But  the  little 
centres  of  population  following  lower  down  in  the  direction  of  Vera  Cruz  already 
lie  within  the  dangerous  zone  which  is  yearly  visited  by  yellow  fever.  Several  of 
these  places  have  an  historic  name,  having  been  the  battleground  of  armies  con- 
testing the  possession  of  the  routes  leading  up  to  the  plateau.  Amongst  them  is 
the  Cerro  Gordo,  the  passage  of  which  was  forced  by  the  American  troops  in  1847. 
Lower  down  is  the  Pueiite  Nacional,  formerly  Ptiente  del  Reij,  a  monumental  bridge 
which  crosses  the  deep  barranca  of  the  Rio  Antigua.  South  of  Jalapa  and  Coatepec 
several  other  towns  occupy  positions  on  the  escarpments  of  the  plateau  analogous 
to  that  of  Jalapa  itself.  The  roads  which  here  creep  up  the  slopes  at  heights 
varying  from  2,800  to  4,000  feet,  are  scarcely  rivalled  in  the  whole  world  for 
their  magnificent  views  and  endless  variety  of  scenery.  On  emerging  from  the 
leafy  avenues  formed  by  the  overhanging  bi'anches  of  conifers  and  other  forest 
growths,  the  traveller  suddenly  beholds  snowy  Orizaba  and  surrounding  ranges, 
with  their  spurs,  terraces,  wooded  lava-fields,  and  the  lower  plains  extending  in 
the  hazy  distance  down  to  the  curved  margin  of  the  blue  Atlantic.  The  flanks  of 
the  mountains  are  furrowed  from  base  to  summit  by  gloomy  gorges  several 
hundred  yards  deep ;  but  the  walls  and  taluses  of  these  gorges,  where  the  tracks 
descend  as  into  bottomless  wells,  are  concealed  by  dense  thickets,  in  which  are 
intermingled  plants  of  the  torrid  and  temperate  zones.  Along  the  banks  of  the 
creek  flowing  on  the  bed  of  the  barranca,  the  explorer  treads  his  way  as  in  a  vast 
conservatory  beneath  the  pendent  foliage  of  palms  and  tree  ferns. 

Orizaba,  which  lies  in  the  very  heart  of  the  mountains  at  the  foot  of  Borrego, 
has  also  a  more  continuous  rainfall  than  Jalapa,  and  the  exhalations  rising  from 
the  ground  are  more  dangerous.  It  stands  on  the  site  of  the  ancient  Ahuilitzajyan, 
or  "  Glad  Waters,"  over  4,000  feet  above  sea-level,  on  a  terrace  whose  thriving 
plantations  are  irrigated  by  copious  streams  of  pure  water. 

Nearly  all  the  maritime  trade  of  the  state,  and  about  half  of  all  the  exchanges  of 
the  republic,  are  concentrated  in  the  port  of  Vera  Cru%.  The  village  of  Pueblo 
Viejo  (Old  Town),  over  against  Tampico,  in  Tamaulipas,  is  little  more  than  a 
detached  suburb  of  that  place.  Farther  south,  Tuxjxtn,  accessible  only  to  small 
craft,  has  a  yearly  trade  of  scarcely  £200,000.  For  some  time  the  works  have 
been  in  progress  which  arc  intended  to  connect  it  with  Tampico  by  a  navigable 
canal  traversing  the  Tamahua  and  other  coast  lagoons.      On  the  whole  seaboard, 



stretching  135  miles  soutli  of  Vera  Cruz,  uo  sheltered  haven  anywhere  occurs,  the 
shore  being  here  everj^vhere  fringed  -with  sands  and  surf.  The  old  port  of  Ifciufh, 
which  formei-ly  gave  its  name  to  the  whole  coast,  is  now  choked  with  mud. 

The  modern  city  of  Yera  Cruz  is  not  the  same  place  as  that  to  which  its 
founder,  Fernan  Cortes,  gave  the  name  of  Villa  Rica  de  Vera  Cruz.  K^evertheless, 
the  first  camping- ground  must  have  stood  on  the  beach  not  far  from  where  the 

Fig.  52. — Obizaba. 
Scale  1 :  60,C'W. 

West  oF  C-T-een>vlch 

.  2,200  Yards. 

present  quays  have  been  built.  It  was  then  removed  farther  north  to  the  village 
of  Quiahuifzlan,  which,  however,  was  badly  chosen,  being  unhealthj-  and  destitute 
of  any  shelter.  Hence,  four  years  later  a  third  city  was  founded  farther  south  near 
the  populous  Zempoala,  capital  of  the  Totonac  territory.  The  river  watering  the 
plantations  of  the  surrounding  district  took  the  name  of  Antigua  in  1599,  when 
this  settlement  was  also  abandoned,  owing  to  the  bar  which  prevented  all  access  to 
the  estuary.  The  fourth  city  is  that  which  now  exists,  and  which  was  founded  on 
the  coast  over  against  the  fortified  island  of  San  Juan  d'Ulua.      It  was  certainly 



difficult  to  fiiid  a  favourable  site  on  sucli  an  inhospitable  coast,  studded  witb  shoals, 
and  surrounded  by  arid  or  sandy  flats  and  marshy  wastes.  Medanos.  or  dunes,  raise 
their  yellowish  slopes  immediately  beyond  the  outskirts  of  the  city,  changmg  their 
form  and  positions  with  every  storm  ;  under  the  influence  of  the  north  winds,  some 
of  these  sandhills  rise  to  a  height  of  160  or  170  feet. 

Seen  from  a  distance  Vera  Cruz,  surrounded  by  all  these  medanos,  presents  a 

Scale  1 :  600,000. 

96  go We   t  6?  Greenw'.ch 


-  86° 



6  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

12  3Iiles. 

far  from  attractive  appearance ;  hence  most  travellers  not  detained  by  business,  and 
aware  of  its  evil  reputation  as  a  hotbed  of  fever,  pass  rapidly  on  to  the  more  agree- 
able cities  of  the  interior,  especially  in  the  hot  season  when  "  yellow  jack  "  prevails 
on  this  seaboard.  The  epidemic  is  said  to  have  carried  off  2,000  persons  in  1862  m 
the  Ciudad  de  los  Muertos,  "  City  of  the  Dead,"  as  it  is  called  in  Mexico.  Neverthe- 



said  to  have  originally  cost  Spain  and  Mexico  £8,000,000.  Sucli  a  sum  might 
have  heen  applied  to  a  better  purpose  by  constructing  the  piers  and  breakwaters 
required  to  convert  into  a  sheltered  harbour  the  dangerous  roadstead  where  ship- 
ping has  hitherto  had  to  ride  at  anchor.  Such  works,  however,  have  at  last  been 
taken  in  hand. 

Still  farther  south  lies  the  roadstead  of  Anton  Lizardo,  formerly  San  Antonio 
Nizardo,  which  is  sheltered  by  a  large  cluster  of  islets  and  reefs.  Eut  with  all 
its  disadvantages,  the  port  of  Vera  Cruz  still  remains  the  chief  trading-place  on 

Fig.  55. — Habboue  Works  in  Peooeess  at  Veea  Cetjz. 

Scale  1  :  40.000. 





2^  to  5 


5  to  10 

2,200  Yards. 

the  Mexican  seaboard,  monopolising  nearly  two- thirds  of  the  exchanges  of  the 
republic.  Eut  any  further  delay  in  constructing  a  safe  and  {'.eep  harbour  could 
not  fail  to  divert  the  traffic  of  Vera  Cruz  to  more  favoured  places.  A  large 
number  of  travellers  proceeding  to  Mexico  already  prefer  the  more  expensive 
railway  route  to  the  sea  voyage  across  the  Gulf  of  Mexico.  The  largest 
share  of  its  trade  is  with  England,  after  which  follow  the  United  States,  Germany, 
and  France  in  the  order  indicated.  Coffee  and  hides  are  the  chief  articles  of 
export,  England  and  France  also  taking  the  fibre  of  a  species  of  zaeaton  {epicanipes) 
used  in  making  fancy  brushes. 

MOEELOS.  135 

The  village  of  Mcdellin,  nine  or  ten  miles  south  of  Vera  Cruz,  recalls  the  visit 
of  Cortes,  who  in  1522  named  this  place  after  his  native  town  in  Estremadura. 
The  railway  is  continued  beyond  this  place  south-westwards  across  the  dunes  and 
forests  to  the  port  of  Alcarado,  on  the  north  side  of  a  large  estuary  where  converge 
the  Papaloapan  and  other  streams.  The  port,  which  is  encircled  by  high  sand- 
hills, is  accessible  to  vessels'  drawing  eight  or  ten  feet.  Here  is  chiefly  shipped 
dried  fish  cured  in  large  quantities  b}'  the  fishermen  who  comprise  nearly  the 
whole  population.  These  fishermen  are  said  to  be  descended  from  Spaniards  who 
took  part  in  the  battle  of  Lepanto,  the  anniversary  of  which  victory  is  still  solemnly 
kept.  The  local  skippers  also  visit  the  port  of  Tlacoltapam,  the  "  City  of  Mos- 
quitoes," which  is  situated  at  the  confluence  of  the  two  navigable  Rivers  Papa- 
loapan and  San  Juan. 

MoRELOs,  Guerrero,  axd  Oaxaca. 

The  section  of  the  republic  lying  south  of  the  great  volcanic  chaia,  comprises 
only  the  three  States  of  Morelos,  Guerrero  and  Oaxaca,  together  with  parts  of 
Mexico  and  Puebla.  Although  all  the  inhabitants  of  this  region,  whites.  Mestizoes 
and  even  Indians,  took  an  active  part  in  the  war  of  independence,  their  country 
has  remained  far  more  secluded  from  the  general  industrial  and  commercial  move- 
ment than  the  other  provinces.  South  of  Morelos  and  Yautepec  no  railway  has 
yet  been  constructed  down  to  the  Pacific,  and  all  the  feeders  of  the  general  system 
stop  within  a  short  distance  of  the  plateau.  But  whenever  thej'  become  connected 
with  the  rest  of  Mexico  these  southern  provinces,  abounding  as  they  do  in  natural 
resources,  will  scarcely  continue  to  lag  behind  the  other  states ;  for  their  inhabi- 
tants are  amongst  the  most  energetic  and  industrious,  and  at  the  same  time  the 
most  upright  in  the  whole  commonwealth.  They  have  also  the  advantage  of 
possessing  on  their  seaboard  the  best  harbour  in  Mexico. 

Citernaraca,  capital  of  Morelos,  is  not  a  Spanish  foundation,  as  might  be 
supposed  from  the  name,  which  is  a  corruption  of  the  Aztec  Cuauhnahuac. 
Communicating  directly  with  Mexico,  through  a  pass  running  east  of  the  Cerro 
de  Ajusco,  this  ancient  citj'  lies  on  the  Pacific  slope  about  2,000  feet  below 
the  federal  capital  and  consequently  in  the  temperate  zone.  Its  lovely  oasis  of 
verdure  is  enclosed  on  thi'ee  sides  by  profound  ravines,  and  its  climate  is  one  of  the 
mildest  and  most  equable  in  the  republic ;  all  the  plants  of  West  Europe  here 
flourish  side  hj  side  with  those  of  the  torrid  zone.  Fernan  Cortes  made  a  good 
choice  when  he  asked  for  the  fief  of  this  valley,  where  his  castle  is  now  replaced  by 
the  municipal  palace.  South-west  of  this  place  stands  the  best-preserved  Aztec 
fortress  in  the  republic,  the  so-called  Xochicaico,  or  "  Castle  of  Flowers."  It 
occupies  an  isolated  hill  386  feet  high,  which  is  encircled  by  trenches  cut  in  such  a 
way  as  to  form  five  successive  terraces  with  steps  of  dressed  stone.  The  whole  struc- 
ture presents  the  appearance  of  a  truncated  pyramid,  with  its  four  sides  exactly 
facing  the  cardinal  points.  Its  basaltic  porphyrj'  blocks,  all  brought  from  a  distance, 
are  embellished  with  hicroglj-phics  and  figures  in  relief,  amongst  others  those  of 
fantastic  animals  with  human  or  saurian  heads,  seated  cross-legged,  Asiatic  fashion. 



The  city  of  Morelos,  whicli,  although  not  the  capital,  takes  the  same  name  as 
the  state,  is  the  ancient  Ctiautla  Amilpas,  the  "Saragossa"  of  New  Spain,  which 
for  several  months  held  out  against  the  united  forces  of  the  Spaniards.  It  enjoj^s 
the  same  delightful  climate  as  Cuernavaca  and  the  neighbouring  Yautepee ;  here 
the  sugar-cane  thrives,  and  the  fruits  raised  in  the  district  are  now  forwarded  to 
Mexico  by  a  railway  which  crosses  a  saddleback,  strewn  with  little  volcanoes,  at 
an  elevation  of  9,730  feet.  Morelos,  like  the  other  towns  of  the  state,  is  watered 
by  copious  streams  flowing  to  the  Rio  Mexcala.     On  a  northern  affluent  of  the 

Fig.  56. — ACAPULCO. 
Scale  1 :  120,000. 

93°  57- 

West   dr.  Greenwich 




6  to  10 


10  to  25 

25  to  50 

50  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

,  3,300  Yards. 

same  river,  but  in  the  State  of  Guerrero,  stands  the  town  of  Ta.rco,  whence  the 
Aztecs  obtained  lead  and  tin,  and  where  the  Spaniards  made  their  first  essays  at 
mining  work  in  New  Spain.  On  another  tributary  lies  the  famous  Iguala,  where 
in  1821  was  issued  the  "plan"  which  the  belligerents  accepted,  and  which  put 
an  end  to  the  Spanish  rule  in  Mexico.  Between  Taxco  and  Cuernavaca  lies  the 
famous  Cacahuamili)a  cave,  whose  marvellous  galleries,  sources  of  springs  and 
rivers,  have  already  been  explored  for  a  distance  of  six  miles. 

The  semicircular   roadstead  opening  east  of  the  Mexcala  delta  is  too  much 
exposed  for  shipping  ;  a  more  favourable  anchorage  is  afforded  by  the  neighbour- 


ing  bay  of  Siguanfaneo,  some  60  miles  north-east  of  Zacatula.  According  to  tte 
plans  of  Gorsucli  and  Jimenez,  this  should  form  the  Pacific  terminus  of  the  Mescala 
Talley  raHTvay,  a  southern  section  of  the  interoceanic  line,  -loO  to  500  miles  long, 
which  it  is  proposed  to  construct  from  Tuxpan  right  across  the  republic. 

Chilpancingo,  capital  of  the  State  of  Guerrero,  is  a  small  place  standing  at  an 
altitude  of  4,560  feet  on  the  elevated  parting-line  between  the  ^lexcala  valley 
and  the  Pacific  Ocean.  Acapidco,  its  admirable  seaport  on  the  Pacific,  has  but 
little  traffic.  Sailing  vessels  have  ceased  to  visit  it,  but  it  remains  a  regular  port 
of  call  for  steamers.  The  harbour,  which  presents  the  form  of  a  vast  crater 
breached  towards  the  Pacific,  is  accessible  to  the  largest  vessels,  which  here  find 
complete  shelter.  But  the  fringe  of  palms  and  bananas  does  little  to  mitigate 
the  intense  heat  in  this  pent-up  cirque,  where  the  solar  rays  are  reflected  from 
side  to  side  of  the  surroimding  granite  cliffs.  An  opening  has  been  made  at 
great  expense  through  the  west  side,  to  give  access  to  the  cool  sea  breezes. 

Antequera,  an  old  Spanish  foundation  dating  from  the  year  1522,  has  resumed 
the  name  of  the  Zapotec  fortress  of  Suaxiacac  (Oa.vaca),  which  lies  three  or  four 
nules  farther  west.  This  place,  laid  out  with  perfect  regularity,  is  almost  un- 
rivalled in  ^ilexico  for  the  beauty  of  its  gardens  and  the  fertility  of  the  surround- 
ing plains.  A  river  bearing  the  Aztec  name  of  Atoyac,  or  "  Punning  "Wafer," 
traverses  the  district,  where,  at  a  mean  elevation  of  about  5,000  feet,  the  plants 
of  both  zones  are  intermingled  in  endless  variety.  One  of  the  chief  industries  of 
Oaxaca  is  the  spinning  and  weaving  of  the  fibre  extracted  from  the  species  of 
bromelwort  known  by  the  name  of  jjifa.  The  whole  "valley"  of  Oaxaca,  with  a 
present  population  of  about  150,000  souls,  was  formerly  the  private  domain  of 
Cortes,  whence  his  title  of  "  Marques  del  Yalle." 

A  few  remains  of  Zapotec  structures  are  seen  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Oaxaca, 
especially  towards  the  west,  where  the  city  of  Huaxiacac  formerly  stood  on  Mount 
Alban.  The  ruins  of  Mitla,  the  best  preserved  and  according  to  some  travellers 
the  finest  in  Mexico,  He  some  30  miles  to  the  east.  Standing  midway  up  the 
slope  of  moderately  elevated  hUls,  which,  Hke  those  of  Greece,  stand  out  sharply 
against  the  horizon,  the  group  of  Mitla  palaces,  with  the  great  pyramid  whose 
temple  is  now  replaced  by  a  CathoKc  shrine,  presents  somewhat  the  aspect  of  a 
dilapidated  Acropolis.  These  edifices  may  also  be  compared  with  the  Hellenic 
monuments  of  the  better  epoch  in  the  beauty  of  their  proportions  and  workman- 
ship. The  walls  are  disposed  in  great  parallelograms  arranged  in  long  horizontal 
bands,  aU  embellished  with  regular  designs,  cross  lines,  lozenges,  fretwork  in 
straight  or  inclined  lines,  but  with  scarcely  any  curves. 

The  waters  flowing  from  Oaxaca,  Mitla,  and  the  intervening  hills  all  converge 
sis  miles  south-east  of  the  capital  near  the  village  of  Sania  Maria  del  Tide,  or  of 
the  "  Eeeds."  Trees  of  colossal  size  are  not  rare  in  this  region,  and  the  houses 
of  the  village  are  grouped  round  the  largest  of  these  giants,  which  was  formerly 
regarded  as  sacred.  It  is  a  sahino,  or  "cj-press"  {taxodiu.m  mucronatum),  which 
is  said  to  be  the  largest  tree  in  the  whole  world ;  at  least  it  exceeds  in  thickness 
all  those  of  which  measui-ements  have  been  taken.     The  so-called  "' Hundred- 



Horse  Chestnut "  is  now  divided  into  three  distinct  stems,  through  which  a  road 
has  been  driven ;  the  dragon-tree  of  Orotava,  which  had  a  girth  of  46  feet,  has 
disappeared ;  the  gigantic  sequoias  of  California  were  felled  in  I800 ;  the  Mon- 
travail  oak  near  Saintes  is  86  feet  round,  and  the  largest  baobabs  and  other 
African  giants  are  described  by  Cadamosto,  Adanson,  and  others  as  from  96  to 
112  feet  in  circumference.  But  in  1882  the  Tule  cj'press  had  a  girth  of  no  less 
than  118  feet  three  or  four  feet  from  the  ground,  and  150  feet  including  all  the 
prominences  and  cavities  of  the  trunk. 

The  route  from  Oaxaca  to  the  sea,  leaving  on  the  right  the  valley  of  the 

rig-.  57. — Chief  Rums  of  Centeal  Mexico. 
Scale  1  :  9,000,000. 


West  pF  Green.v^ch 

m  Miles. 

Atoyac,  which  winds  away  westwards  to  the  frontiers  of  Guerrero,  runs  at  an 
altitude  of  7,460  feet  over  the  crest  of  the  Cimaltepec  coast  range.  Near  the  summit 
stands  the  industrial  village  of  Miahnatlan,  whose  inhabitants  are  skilful  straw- 
plaiters,  which  thej'  work  into  a  thousand  fancy  articles  exported  far  and  wide. 
The  cochineal  industry  was  formerly  the  chief  resource  of  the  district,  but  the 
southern  slopes  are  now  covered  with  coffee  plantations  which  yield  excellent 
results.  Hence  the  cultivation  of  the  shrub  has  been  rapidly  developed  even  to 
a  distance  of  40  or  50  miles  inland.  The  high  prices  obtained  by  the  growers 
have  enabled  them  to  introduce  costly  machinery  for  drying  and  sorting  the 
berry.     Thanks  to  this  growing  industry  Puerto  Angel,  the  badly  sheltered  outlet 



of  Oaxaca,  has  acquired  some  commercial  importance  since  its  foundation  in  1868. 
On  tlais  coast  the  best  harbour  is  that  of  Huafulco  {Guatuko,  Coafoko),  where  a 
channel  650  j-ards  wide  gives  access  to  a  well-sheltered  basin  from  25  to  50  feet 
deep.  The  little  fishing  station  of  Crespon,  which  collects  pearl  oj-sters  and  the 
purple-yielding.murex,  stands  on  the  beach  within  the  harbour.  At  a  neighbour- 
Fig.  58.— Isthmus  or  Tehttaittepec. 

Scale  I  :  2.600,000. 

Tu    r%V'  ^P" 

3  A  A°  'S  Ma     a  if 

4      V  ^Chmaap,        ^tS 

<■•.-?>'* ' 


West   or    GreenwicK 


.  CO  Miles. 

ing  headland  the  sea  plunges  into  a  cavernous  recess,  reappearing  farther  ofE  in 
a  biifadero,  or  jet,  about  150  feet  above  the  surface. 

About  one-third  of  the  state  is  drained  by  the  Rivers  Papaloapan  and  Coatza- 
coalcos,  which  belong  to  the  Atlantic  basin.  On  this  northern  slope  the  chief 
place  is  I.rtlan,  which  lies  in  a  fertile  district  of  the  upper  Papaloapan  valley 
ever  against  the  superb  Mount  San  Felipe.     Ixtlan  now  also  bears  the  name  of 



ViUn  Juarez,  from  the  most  distinguished  of  its  citizens,  the  Juarez  who  main- 
tained Mexican  independence  against  ilaximilian.  In  the  eastern  part  of  Oaxaca 
the  chief  town  is  Tehuantepec,  or  "  Tiger  Mountain,"  an  old  city  of  the  Huabi 
people,  which  was  founded  at  an  epoch  previous  to  the  Zapotec  occupation  of  the 
land.  It  is  the  only  place  in  the  district  deserving  the  name  of  "town,"  and  it 
is  so  completely  divided  into  separate  quarters  by  mounds  and  ridges  that  it  has 
rather  the  aspect  of  a  group  of  villages.  In  the  vicinity  are  some  magnificent 
palm  and  orange  groves,  and  gardens  yielding. choice  fruits. 

"While  proud  of  its  past,  Tehuantepec  is  still  more  confident  of  its  future,  as 
controlling  one  of  the  future  commercial  highways  of  the  world.     The  railway 

,  .59. — Sauna  Cbfz.  the  kew  Poet  of  TzHrA^-rEPEC. 

Scale  I  ;  60,000. 

\Ve St   c?    G'-ee"'^  ct- 




5  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

—  2,200  Yards. 

across  the  isthmus  is  making  rapid  progress,  and  has  already  surmounted  the 
highest  passes  of  the  hiUs  between  the  two  oceans,  so  that  the  coffee  grown  on  the 
Pacific  slope  is  now  often  forwarded  by  the  overland  route,  saving  several  thousand 
miles  between  Central  America  and  Europe. 

About  nine  miles  to  the  south-west  lies  the  old  port  of  Tehuantepec,  on  a 
badly  sheltered  bay,  which  would  have  to  be  protected  by  expensive  hydraulic 
works  to  make  it  suitable  for  its  future  trafiic  ;  meanwhile  choice  had  to  be  made 
of  Salina  Cruz  Bay,  where  the  shipping  finds  some  shelter  behind  a  pier  at  the 
terminus  of  the  interoceanic  route. 

East  of  Tehuantepec,  on  the  strips  of  sand  between  the  lagoons  and  the  sea,  are 
scattered  some  3,000  Huabi  fishers,  the  last  of  a  race  whose  ancestors  contended 



with  the  Mijes  and  Zapotecs  for  the  supremacy  in  this  region.  In  the  north-east, 
towards  the  centre  of  the  isthmus,  the  two  towns  of  Chimalapa,  distinguished  by 
the  names  of  their  tutelar  saints,  are  inhabited  by  the  interesting  Zoquo  Indians, 
who  speak  a  language  of  unknown  origin. 

Scale  1 ;  200,000. 


■West    op   Greenwich 





5  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

.  3  MUes. 

Minatitlan,  on  the  Coatzacoalcos,  at  the  head  of  the  navigation  for  ships  drawing 
ten  or  twelve  feet,  is  the  northern  or  Atlantic  port  of  the  isthmus.  At  present  an 
obscure  trading  place,  it  seems  destined  soon  to  become  a  flourishing  seaport.  It 
is  already  connected  with  the  mouth  of  the  Coatzacoalcos  by  a  railway,  which  is 
continued  southwards  in  the  direction  of  Tehuantepec.     Minatitlan,  standing  at 


the  northern  approach  to  the  isthmus,  has  also  been  chosen  as  the  junction  of  the 
Kne  which  is  intended  to  run  from  Vera  Cruz  towards  Yucatan  and  Guatemala. 

The  neighbouring  town  of  JaUlpan  is  dominated  by  a  moimd  which,  according 
to  the  local  tradition,  was  raised  by  Cortes  to  the  memory  of  Malintzin,  or  Dona 
Marina,  the  Indian  woman  to  whose  sagacity  and  foresight  he  was  probably  indebted 
for  the  conquest  of  Mexico.  A  French  and  Swiss  colony  founded  in  1828  at  Los 
Almagri's  survived  a  few  years  despite  the  climate  and  homesickness.  The  few 
remaining  settlers  were  at  last  dispersed  amongst  the  Mexican  towns.  A  Chinese 
merchant  of  San  Francisco,  owner  of  extensive  estates  in  the  isthmus,  has  recently 
introduced  a  large  number  of  his  fellow-countrymen  into  the  same  district  where 
they  are  employed  on  the  rice  and  tea  plantations. 

III.— ^-East  Mexico. 
Chiapas,  Tabasco,  Campeaciiy,  Yucatax. 

The  Chiapas  highlands,  distinctly  separated  bj'  the  depression  of  the  Tehuan- 
tepec  isthmus  from  the  Mexican  tablelands,  belong  evidently  to  the  same  natural 
region  as  the  highlands  and  plateaux  of  Guatemala.  Both  are  disposed  in  a  con- 
tinuous chain,  with  their  steep  escarpments  turned  towards  the  Pacific,  while 
the  opposite  slopes  fall  gently  northwards  towards  the  alluvial  lands  of  Tabasco 
and  the  plains  of  Yucatan.  This  peninsula,  whose  roots  are,  so  to  say,  sunk  in  the 
morasses  and  branching  deltas  of  Tabasco,  projects  its  huge  quadrilateral  mass 
beyond  the  continental  coastline  in  the  direction  of  Cuba,  and  is  continued  by  a 
submerged  plateau,  which  forms  geographically  a  part  of  that  island.  Thus  the 
whole  of  East  Mexico  from  Chiapas  to  Yucatan  constitutes  a  natural  region  quite 
distinct  from  the  rest  of  the  republic,  from  which  it  also  differs  in  the  origin  and 
history  of  its  inhabitants,  both  in  pre-  and  post-Columbian  times.  But  in  pro- 
portion to  its  size  it  is  greatly  inferior  in  importance  to  "West  Mexico.  It  is  but 
sparsely  peopled,  and  its  great  natural  resom'ces  have  scarcely  begun  to  be  utilised. 
The  four  eastern  states  have  an  estimated  population  of  not  more  than  six  or  eight 
to  the  square  mile. 

The  natural  parting-line  of  the  two  regions  indicated  by  the  Tehuantepec 
peninsula  was  also  formerly  a  political  frontier.  Under  the  Spanish  rule  Chiapas 
was  temporarily  attached  to  the  administrative  division  of  Oaxaca  in  1776,  but  for 
nearly  the  whole  of  the  three  hundred  }'ears  that  elapsed  from  Alvarado's  con- 
quering expedition  of  1523  to  the  proclamation  of  independence  in  1823,  Chiapas 
and  the  Pacific  province  of  Soconusco  were  simple  dependencies  of  the  viceroj^alty 
of  Guatemala.  When  Guatemala  entered  the  Mexican  union,  the  two  dependent 
provinces  also  became  an  integral  part  of  Iturbide's  empire.  But  when  Guatemala 
again  asserted  its  political  autonomy,  it  was  unable  to  recover  more  than  a  small 
part  of  Soconusco,  and  the  disputed  frontier  was  not  determined  even  in  diplo- 
matic documents  till  the  year  1882. 

Yucatan,  also,  which  had  constituted  a  special  division  in  the  viceroyalty  of 
New  Spain,  became  a  Mexican  province  after  the  proclamation  of  independence. 

CHIAPAS.  143 

!6ut  in  1840  an  insurrection  was  caused  by  the  numerous  abuses  of  the  central 
government.  The  ilexican  garrisons  were  expelled  and  the  officials  deposed  ;  so 
unanimous  was  the  public  sentiment  of  the  Yucatan  people  that  the  change  was 
effected  without  bloodshed.  Two  years  afterwards  a  Mexican  force  of  11,000 
men  besieged  the  town  of  Campeachy,  but  the  besiegers  themselres,  reduced  by 
battle  and  fever  to  a  fourth  of  their  original  strength,  had  to  capitulate,  and  the 
Mexican  Government  recognised  the  complete  autonomy  of  Yucatan,  which  on  its 
part  gave  a  nominal  adhesion  to  the  federal  union.  But  after  the  national  victory, 
discord  broke  out  between  the  two  rival  cities  of  Campeachy  and  Merida,  both 
of  which  aspired  to  the  title  of  capital. 

Then  the  Indians  themselves,  trained  to  warfare  during  these  incessant  struggles 
in  which  they  bad  been  compelled  to  take  part,  seized  the  opportunity  to  proclaim 
their  own  independence  against  their  white  masters.  Thus  it  happened  that  in 
order  to  maintain  their  existence  and  pri^-ileges,  the  white  populations  had  first  to 
settle  their  own  differences,  and  then  come  to  terms  with  the  Mexican  republic. 
The  social  war  lasted  many  years,  and  ended  in  the  triumph  of  the  Indians,  who 
succeeded  in  maintaining  their  independence  in  the  southern  part  of  the  peninsula. 
From  this  district  the  Mexicans  are  now  excluded,  and  even  European  travellers 
are  not  allowed  to  penetrate  into  the  country  except  under  the  protection  of  a 
native  chief.  In  this  direction  Yucatan  is  thus  separated  from  Guatemala  by  a 
broad  zone  of  tmreduced  populations,  just  as  it  is  separated  from  Mexico  proper  by 
still  uninhabited  wastes. 

Physical  Features. 

The  mountain  range  which  begins  east  of  the  Tehuantepec  isthmus  and  is 
continued  through  Guatemala  and  Central  America  is  more  entitled,  by  its 
regularity  and  relative  altitude,  to  the  name  of  Sierra  Madre,  which  is  of  such 
frequent  occurrence  in  Hispano- American  lands.  The  first  summits  rise  abruptly 
above  the  forests  of  the  isthmus,  where  the  Atravesado  ridge  is  already  5,000  feet 
high,  and  is  followed  eastwards  by  several  other  summits  exceeding  6,500  feet. 
The  formation  is  mainly  porphyritic,  with  volcanic  cones  appearing  at  intervals, 
amongst  others  the  famous  Soconusco  (7,900  feet),  the  ancient  Xoconochco,  which 
gives  its  name  to  the  surrounding  plains  and  to  the  whole  southern  slope  of  the 
State  of  Chiapas.  According  to  the  natives,  Soconusco  still  emits  vapours,  but 
no  mention  is  made  of  eruptions  which  would  appear  to  have  occurred  in  within 
comparatively  recent  times.  On  the  other  hand  tlie  Indians  greatly  fear  the 
Tacana  volcano,  which  has  been  chosen  as  the  common  frontier  between  Mexico 
and  Guatemala.  Tacana  is  a  regular  cone  which,  according  to  Dollfus  and  De 
Mont-Serrat,  must  certainly  exceed  11,500  feet.  It  is  nearly  always  wrapped  in 
smoke,  and  frequently  in  a  state  of  eruption. 

Towards  the  Pacific  the  Sierra  Madre  falls  Very  abruptly,  the  crest  of  the 
range  here  running  at  a  mean  distance  of  25  to  30  miles  from  the  shore.  On  the 
other  hand  the  Atlantic  slope  is  comparatively  gentle,  though  the  dechvity  is 
not  regular  like  that  of  an  iacliued  plane.      It  is  broken  by  deep  valleys  and 



rugged   cliains,  vlaieli  the  running  waters  have  carved  iuto  isolated  masses  or 
irregular  ridges,  but  which  are  mainly  disposed  parallel  with  the  Sierra  Madre. 

The  central  part  of  Chiapas  may  be  regarded  as  a  hilly  plateau,  above  which 
rise  sharp  peaks  such  as  Hueitepec,  east  of  San  Cristobal,  which  is  said  to  be  7,450 
feet  high.  Northwards  the  plateau  has  been  cut  by  the  streams  into  roimded 
hills,  which  gradually  merge  in  the  alluvial  plains.  Towards  the  west  the 
plateau  terminates  above  the  plains  of  the  isthmus  in  the  superb  Mount  Gineta. 

Fig-.  61. — Bauk  of  Yucatan. 

Scale  1 :  6,500,000. 



W<-St     oF     Gr 


0  to  100 

100  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

.  124  Miles. 

This  gently  undulating  country,  covered  with  woods  and  diversified  with  running 
waters,  is  one  of  the  finest  regions  in  Mexico. 

In  Yucatan  proper  there  are  no  mountain  ranges ;  only  in  the  southern 
parts  of  the  peninsula  towards  the  Guatemalan  and  British  Honduras  frontiers 
the  surface  is  broken  by  a  few  low  spurs  and  offshoots  from  the  orographic 
systems  of  those  regions.  The  quadrangular  mass  limited  southwards  by  a  con- 
ventional line  drawn  across  the  solitudes  from  the  Terminos  to  the  Chetumal 
lagoon,  is  nothing  but  a  huge  limestone  plateau  rising  above  the  surrounding 
waters,  and  broken  here  and  there  by  a  few  narrow  ridges.  The  mean  altitude 
.scarcely  exceeds  100  feet,  while  the   highest  rising  grounds  would   appear  to 


attain  an  elevation  of  not  more  than  500  feet  above  the  average  height  of  Yucatan. 
These  rising  grounds  constitute  a  sort  of  backbone  disposed  in  the  direction 
from  south-east  to  north-west  towards  the  blunt  angle  of  the  peninsula,  and 
connected  with  a  ridge  that  skirts  the  west  coast  of  Campeachy.     Wooded' hills 

Fig.  62. — Alaceajj  Reef. 
Scale  1  :  230,000. 


West   oF   Grrenwich 


10  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 


—  SJJIiles. 

also  run  from  south-west  to  north-east  in  the  direction  of  Cape  Catoche.  This  cal- 
careous mass,  forming  an  almost  geometrical  square,  is  continued  by  a  submarine 
bank  far  beyond  the  coastline,  except  on  the  east  side,  which  is  washed  by  deep 
waters  where  the  plummet  plunges  into  depths  of  several  hundred  yards  within 
a  few  cable-lengths  of  the  shore.     The  large  island  of  Cozumel,  with  the  banks 

VOL.    XVII. 


forming  its  northern  continuation,  is  separated  from  the  mainland  by  a  profoimd 
channel  where  the  waters  of  a  coast  current  set  steadily  from  south  to  north  at  a 
velocity  of  two  or  tbree  miles  an  hour.  South  of  Cozumel  the  dangerous  Chin- 
chorro  bank,  as  well  as  Arrowsmith  on  the  north  side,  is  also  a  coralline  limestone 
mass  rising  from  the  bed  of  a  deep  basin ;  but  the  creeks,  bays  and  other  inlets 
on  the  coast,  especially  those  of  Espiritu  Santo  and  Asuncion,  are  almost  completely 
choked  with  sands  and  reefs. 

The  submarine  pedestal  of  Yucatan  begins  at  the  north-east  angle  of  the 
peninsula,  and  extends  over  125  miles  northwards,  thus  embracing  the  island  of 
Mujeres  and  the  cluster  of  islets  in  the  vicinity  of  Cape  Catoche.  The  escarp- 
ment of  the  submarine  bank,  as  indicated  by  the  sounding  line  plunging  suddenly 
into  depths  of  100,  250,  1,000  and  even  1,500  fathoms,  thus  describes  a  great 
curve  round  Yucatan,  roughly  parallel  with  the  coast.  The  still-submerged 
portion  is  far  more  extensive  than  the  upheaved  peninsula  itself,  and  may  be 
estimated  at  about  60,000  square  miles.  Should  it  ever  rise  above  the  surface  of 
the  sea,  it  will  present  the  aspect  of  an  almost  horizontal  limestone  mass,  in  its 
general  appearance  exactly  resembling  the  present  peninsula.  The  numerous 
cayos  (cays  or  reefs)  scattered  over  this  submarine  plateau,  Alacran,  Arenas,  Los 
Triangulos,  Areas,  are  all  coralline  rocks  similar  to  those  fringing  the  coast  of  the 
mainland,  and  all  have  their  most  active  colonies  of  polypi  on  the  outer  face  turned 
towards  the  surf  rolling  in  from  the  high  seas.  It  was  at  the  Alacran,  or 
"Scorpion,"  Reef  that  the  Valdivia -was -wrecked  in  l^jll,  the  crew  escaping  in  a 
longboat  to  the  Yucatan  coast  near  Cape  Catoche.  Geronimo  de  Aguilar,  one  of  the 
two  survivors,  afterwards  became  Cortes'  interpreter  during  the  conquest  of 

The  Arenas  cays,  near  the  south-west  corner  of  the  bank,  consist  of  a  few 
islets  frequented  by  myriads  of  aquatic  birds  and  covered  with  guano.  In  1854 
the  Mexicans  first  began  to  work  these  deposits  ;  they  were  followed  by  the 
Americans,  who  claimed  to  be  the  first  occupants,  and  on  that  ground  pretended 
that  the  cay  belonged  to  the  United  States.  This  claim  to  a  bank  obviously  lying 
in  Yucatan  waters  gave  rise  to  long  diplomatic  discussions. 


The  fluvial  systems  of  East  Mexico  present  in  Chiapas  and  Yucatan  a  contrast 
analogous  to  that  of  the  relief  of  these  regions.  In  Chiapas  the  running  waters 
flow  in  superabundance  on  the  surface  of  the  ground ;  in  Yucatan,  water  has  to 
be  sought  at  great  depths  in  the  chasms  of  the  rocks.  East  of  the  Rio  Tonala, 
which  forms  the  boundary  between  the  States  of  Vera  Cruz  and  Tabasco,  the 
whole  of  the  Atlantic  slope  as  far  as  Yucatan  belongs  to  the  two  united  basins  of 
the  Grijalva  and  Usumacinta,  which  rise  in  the  same  district  on  the  Guatemalan 
uplands  and  enter  the  Gulf  of  Mexico  through  the  same  channel.  The  Grijalva, 
which  flows  under  several  different  names  at  different  parts  of  its  circular  course, 
has  its  chief  sources  in  the  province  of  Huehuetenango,  and  the  town  of  this  name 
is  itself  watered  by  one  of  its  headstreams.      After  entering  Mexican  territory 



it  is  Joined  in  quick  succession  by  most  of  its  upper  affluents,  and  here  it  takes  the 
name  of  Rio  Grande  or  Rio  de  Chiapa,  from  the  town  standing  on  its  banks.  In 
this  part  of  its  course  it  falls  in  a  steep  incline  through  a  series  of  rapids  and 
cascades,  and  near  Ghiapa  suddenly  plunges  into  a  rocky  chasm  whence  it  escapes 
at  a  much  lower  level  farther  down.  Where  it  becomes  navigable  it  describes 
a  great  bend  towards  the  west  under  the  name  of  the  Rio  Mezcalapa,  and  on 
reaching  the  low-lying  plains  only  a  few  yards  above  sea-level,  it  assumes  its 

Kg.  63. — The  UsTTMAcnrrA. — View  taken  at  the  Paso  Yalchilau,  on  the  GrtiATEiiALAN  Fkon-tieb. 

official  title  of  Grijalva  from  the  navigator  by  whom  it  was  discovered  in  the  year 
1519.  But  the  natives  have  preserved  the  old  name  of  Tabasco,  which  Bernal 
Diaz  learnt  from  the  Indians  during  the  same  expedition.  On  reaching  the 
alluvial  plains  the  main  stream  begins  to  ramify  in  various  directions,  throwing 
off  some  branches  seawards,  others  to  the  TJsumacinta,  which  is  much  the  larger 
of  the  two  rivers. 

The    TJsumacinta,   less  known  than    the  Grijalva  because  traversing  a  very 

L  2 


sparsely  peopled  region,  also  receives  its  first  contributions  from  the  "  altos," 
or  uplands,  of  Guatemala.  According  to  Brasseur  de  Bourbourg,  the  Eio  Blanco, 
the  main  headstream,  soon  after  the  Rio  Negro  confluence  trends  at  first  eastwards 
in  the  direction  of  Honduras  Bay.  But  after  changing  its  name  ten  times  accord- 
ing to  the  tribes  settled  on  its  banks,  the  Rio  Chixoy  or  Lacandon,  as  it  is  here 
usually  called,  turns  north  and  north-west  to  its  confluence  beyond  the  uplands 
with  the  Rio  de  la  Pasion,  a  yellowish  stream  from  the  border  ranges  south  of 
British  Honduras.  It  mostly  flows  sluggishly  between  its  wooded  banks,  but 
during  the  rainy  season  it  floods  its  banks  and  at  times  rises  50  feet  above  low- 
water  level.  Below  the  confluence  the  united  stream  takes  the  name  of 
Usumacinta,  under  which  it  is  indicated  in  the  diplomatic  conventions,  according 
to  which  it  has  been  chosen  for  a  space  of  nearly  70  miles  as  the  common  frontier 
of  Mexico  and  Guatemala.  Navigable  by  canoes  throughout  a  great  part  of  its 
upper  course,  the  Usumacinta  pierces  the  last  range  of  hills  by  a  series  of  gorges 
and  rapids  which  obstruct  all  navigation  by  large  craft.  This  section,  where  the 
stream  is  contracted  between  vertical  walls,  takes  the  name  of  Boca  del  Cerro,  or 
"Mouth  of  the  Moimtain."  The  people  employed  in  felling  mahogany  and  cedar 
in  this  district  mark  the  blocks  and  throw  them  into  the  current,  by  which  they 
are  carried  from  rapid  to  rapid  down  to  Tenosique.  Here  the  stream  resumes  its 
placid  course,  and  is  soon  joined  by  the  Rio  San  Pedro  from  Lake  Peten  in 
Guatemala.  The  waters  of  this  affluent  are  so  thoroughly  saturated  with  carbonate 
of  Ume  that  the  snags  arrested  by  the  reefs  are  rapidly  petrified  and  thus  form 
bars  athwart  the  stream. 

Beyond  the  confluence  the  Usumacinta  follows  a  winding  course  through  the 
flat  plains,  till  the  first  branches  of  the  delta  begin  to  ramify  from  the  main  stream 
some  60  miles  above  the  Gulf.  Some  of  these  branches  trend  north-eastwards 
towards  the  Terminos  lagoon,  some  flow  straight  to  the  sea,  while  others  intermingle 
their  waters  with  branches  from  the  Grijalva  and  from  the  secondary  aSluents  of 
the  twin  river.  Including  the  channels  discharging  into  the  Terminos  lagoon, 
the  face  of  the  delta  has  a  development  of  about  125  miles,  while  all  the  ramifica- 
tions occupy  a  space  that  may  be  estimated  at  6,000  square  miles.  Scarcely  any 
other  fluvial  basin  of  like  size  has  created  such  an  extensive  accumulation  of  sedi- 
mentary matter  in  the  waters  of  a  marine  Inlet. 

The  Barra  de  Tabasco,  or  principal  channel,  lies  about  the  middle  of  the  delta 
region,  and  has  a  depth  of  from  seven  to  ten  feet  according  to  the  seasons.  This 
channel  is  deepest  during  the  prevalence  of  the  north  winds,  especially  in  the  dry 
season.  During  the  floods,  when  the  sea  is  covered  with  a  j'ellowish  water  for  a 
distance  of  35  miles  from  the  coast,  the  bar  is  considerably  raised  by  the  sediment 
brought  down  with  the  flood  waters,  so  that  at  such  times  vessels  drawing  no  more 
than  six  or  seven  feet  will  not  always  venture  to  force  the  obstruction.  The  San 
Pedro,  another  branch  of  the  delta  lying  farther  east,  although  shallower.  Is  more 
constant.  The  deepest,  but  also  one  of  the  most  shifting,  passages  Is  that  of  Chil- 
tepec  in  the  east,  where  the  soimding-line  occasionally  reveals  a  depth  of  thirteen 
feet.    Here  is  discharged  the  Rio  Seco,  or  "  Dry  River,"  which  Is  supposed  to  have 



been  the  chief  branch  when  these  coasts  were  surveyed  by  Grijalva.  In  the  inte- 
rior of  Tabasco  the  Grijalva  and  Usumacinta  present  in  their  numerous  ramifvinw 
branches  a  collective  navigable  water-system  several  hundred  miles  long  even  in 
the  dry  season.  In  IS-iO,  1843,  and  184-5,  Texan,  Yucatan,  and  American  fiotUlas 
of  war  easily  penetrated  into  the  Grijalva  as  far  as  the  landing-stage  of  San  Juan 
Bautista,  the  capital,  over  80  miles  above  the  bar.  The  Usumaciuta  also  is  navi- 
gable during  the  floods  for  nearly  200  miles  from  its  mouth,  while  light  river- 
craft  ascend  still  farther  above  the  rapids. 

In  a  region  of  loose,  soft  soil  changes  are  necessarily  frequent,  every  inundation 

Scale  1  : 2,000,000. 



30  Slfles. 

modifying  the  aspect  of  the  land.  "When  the  streams  rise  and  overflow  their  banks 
a  great  part  of  the  State  of  Tabasco  is  laid  under  water.  A  space  of  about  2,000 
square  miles  within  the  fijsed  coastline  disappears  regularly  during  the  winter 
floods.  A  first  rise  caused  by  the  summer  rains  takes  place  towards  the  end  of 
June,  but  it  is  usually  of  short  duration,  and  is  followed  after  an  interval  of  three 
months  by  the  second  rise,  which  usually  begins  in  October  and  lasts  till  ilarch, 
or  for  about  half  the  year.  During  this  period  all  land  travelling  becomes  impos- 
sible, and  the  inhabitants  move  about  by  water.      But  almost  every  channel  and 


backwater  offers  them  a  passage  through  the  forests.  Thousands  of  such  channels, 
flowing  now  one  way,  now  another,  according  to  the  currents  of  the  affluent  rivers, 
cover  the  whole  country  with  an  endless  network  of  navigable  waterways  masked 
from  view  by  the  floating  masses  of  nympheae  and  other  aquatic  plants. 

The  Terminos  lagoon,  which  receives  a  portion  of  the  Usumacinta  waters  through 
the  branch  known  as  the  Rio  Palizada,  and  which  is  also  fed  by  several  other 
streams,  such  as  the  Chumpan,  Candelaria,  and  Mamantel,  is  an  eastern  continua- 
tion of  the  low-lying  plains  of  Tabasco.  An  upheaval  of  a  few  j'ards  would  suffice 
to  expose  its  sandbanks  and  change  its  navigable  channels  to  stagnant  waters. 
The  shore  line,  which  will  serve  as  a  rampart  for  the  future  lands  now  being 
gradually  created  by  the  fluvial  deposits,  already  exists  in  the  chain  of  the  two  long 
islands,  Aguada  and  Carmen,  which  close  the  entrance  of  the  lagoon,  leaving  only 
three  passages  for  vessels  of  light  draught.  The  Puerto  Escondido,  or  "Hidden 
Port,"  as  the  eastern  channel  is  called,  is  only  a  few  inches  deep  on  the  siU,  and 
this  depth  is  seldom  increased  to  three  or  four  feet  even  by  the  tides,  except  when 
accompanied  by  strong  sea  winds.  The  insular  spits  are  merely  sandy  beaches 
rising  scarcely  six  or  seven  feet  above  sea-level,  so  that  a  few  miles  from  land 
nothing  is  seen  except  the  continuous  Hne  of  trees  behind  which  stretch  the  still 
waters  of  the  inland  lagoon.  On  different  majjs  the  contour  lines  of  this  lagoon 
are  differently  figured  ;  they  differ,  in  fact,  according  to  the  seasons,  the  winds  and 
the  quantity  of  sediment  washed  down  by  the  affluents.  On  the  north  side  the 
sheet  of  water  is  continued  jjarallel  with  the  shore  for  a  distance  of  some  60  miles. 
This  extension  of  the  lagoon  is  merely  a  brackish  channel  gradually  narrowing 
towards  its  northern  extremity,  where  it  is  nothing  more  than  a  feeble  seaward 
passage  occupying  the  bed  of  an  old  inlet  on  the  coast.  The  lagoon  received  the 
name  of  Terminos  in  1518  from  the  pilot  Antonio  de  Alaminos,  who  supposed  that 
the  "  island  "  of  Yucatan  "  terminated  "  at  this  point. 

Farther  north  as  far  as  the  neighbourhood  of  Campeachy  a  few  small  coast 
streams  reach  the  sea.  But  beyond  that  place  all  the  rainwater  rapidly  dis- 
appears in  the  porous  limestone  soil ;  not  a  single  rivulet  it  visible,  although  there 
exist  in  the  Interior  a  few  lacustrine  basins,  formed  probably  in  the  depressions 
where  more  close-grained  rocks  approach  the  surface.  Such  is,  towards  the  middle 
of  the  peninsula,  the  brackish  Lake  Chichankanab,  which  stretches  north  and  south 
a  distance  of  about  fifteen  miles.  Other  smaller  sheets  of  water  are  scattered  over 
the  north-eastern  district  and,  according  to  native  report,  lagoons  are  also  numerous 
towards  the  neck  of  the  peninsula  west  of  British  Honduras.  But  neither  rivers, 
springs,  nor  any  surface  waters  are  seen  in  the  more  densely-peopled  central,  north- 
western, and  northern  districts,  where  nothing  occurs  except  some  morasses  tem- 
porarily flooded  during  the  rainy  season.  The  moisture,  however,  is  collected  in 
the  bowels  of  the  earth  above  the  impermeable  rocks,  and,  thanks  to  the  natural 
galleries  occurring  here  and  there,  the  inhabitants  are  able  to  reach  these  under- 
ground reservoirs,  from  which  they  draw  their  supplies. 

In  these  deep  cavities  the  water  does  not  appear  to  flow  as  in  subterranean  rivers, 
but  rather  spreads  out  in  vast  basins  which  communicate  with  one  another  through 




cenotes.  Through  the  increasing  gloom  they  follow  the  inclines  excavated  obHquely 
in  the  rocky  wall  until  they  reach  the  vaults  from  which  hang  stalactites  entwined 
by  long  pendent  alga).  Here  they  fill  their  large  pitchers  with  the  dark  fluid, 
which  has  to  be  brought  laboriously  to  the  surface.  The  work  entailed  on  the 
women  is  perhaps  heaviest  at  the  cenote  of  Bolonchen,  or  the  "  Nine  Springs,"  a 
ruined  village  lying  north-east  of  Campeachy  on  the  road  to  Merida.  Here  the 
deep  cavity  is  reached  through  fissures  in  the  rock  and  spiral  stairs  forming  a 
gallery  altogether  nearly  550  yards  long  and  descending  to  an  absolute  depth  of 
about  410  feet  below  the  surface  of  the  ground. 

The  form  of  the  coast-Hne  along  the  northern  seaboard  of  the  peninsula  may 

Fig.  66.— The  Rio  of  Yucatan. 
Scale  1  :  4,000,000. 



tWest  op-  Greenwich 



50  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

.  60  Miles. 

be  partly  explained  by  the  pressui-e  of  the  inland  waters  spreading  out  beneath 
the  surface  of  the  limestone  plateau.  A  strip  of  land  fringes  the  shore  at  the 
north-east  corner  of  Yucatan,  but  it  has  not  the  free  development  of  the  littoral 
cordons  skirting  the  Texas  and  Tamaulipas  coasts  on  the  opposite  side  of  the 
Gulf.  It  is  disposed  in  a  narrow  band  near  the  true  shore-line,  the  outer  and 
inner  beaches  presenting  the  same  curves  with  a  surprising  parallelism.  It 
becomes  somewhat  less  regular  towards  the  eastern  extremity,  where  it  is  inter- 
rupted at  several  points,  and  even  forms  the  large  island  of  Holbox  facing  the 
Boca  del  Conil  ("Rabbit's  Mouth"),  a  considerable  inlet,  where  extremely  copious 
springs  bubble  up  amid  the  marine  waters  about  a  quarter  of  a  mile  from  the 
coast.     The  normal  cordon,  beginning  west  of  this  inlet,  runs  for  a  distance  of 


170  miles,  broken  only  by  two  narrow  passages  facing  two  streamlets — exceptional 
phenomena  on  this  part  of  the  seaboard. 

The  narrow  channel  separating  the  mainland  from  its  shifting  outer  beach 
is  known  by  various  names,  such  as  laguna,  pantano,  tierra  fangosa,  but  is  more 
commonly  called  the  rio,  or  river,  or  even  the  Rio  Lagartos,  "  Crocodile  River." 
At  first  sight  this  term  "  river "  would  seem  to  be  scarcely  justified  by  a  long 
channel,  which  during  the  dry  season  is  interrupted  at  several  points.  It  is 
crossed  not  only  by  fords,  but  even  by  tracks  and  now  by  roads  and  railway 
embankments,  and  here  and  there  by  a  tangle  of  bushy  growths,  leaving  of  the 
rio  nothing  but  narrow  stretches  of  meres  or  lagoons.  I^umerous  springs  reappear 
in  the  open  sea,  but  the  channel  itself  receives  most  of  the  overflow  from  the 
underground  reservoirs,  and  the  sediment  brought  down  from  these  sources 
suffices  to  maintain  the  rampart  of  sands  and  broken  coral  reefs  by  which  the 
marine  waters  are  kept  at  some  distance  from  the  shore.  At  the  north-west 
corner  of  Yucatan  the  fringing  sandy  cordon  cuj-ves  round  southwards  with 
almost  geometrical  regularity,  terminating  near  a  point  of  the  coast  known  by 
the  name  of  Desconocida.  This  double  shore-line  coincides  with  that  of  the 
marine  current,  which  skirts  the  beach  from  east  to  west,  and  which  here  meets 
a  counter- current  setting  from  the  coasts  of  Tabasco  and  Campeachy  under  the 
action  of  the  northern  winds.  At  the  point  where  they  clash  the  two  marine 
currents  develop  a  strong  whirlpool,  by  which  the  shore  is  eroded.  A  studj'  of 
the  Yucatan  seaboard  gives  the  impression  that  the  peninsula  has  been  gradually 
formed  and  continues  to  increase  by  these  outer  strips  of  sand,  shells,  and  coral 
reefs  successively  added  to  the  mainland. 

Climate,  Flora,  Fauna. 

As  In  their  relief  and  hydrographic  systems,  Chiapas  and  Yucatan  diEEer  also 
in  their  climates,  though  to  a  less  extent,  for  both  regions  are  comprised  within 
the  torrid  zone  with  a  temperature  approaching  the  equatorial  mean.  The 
Chiapas  slope  facing  the  Pacific  lies  entirely  within  the  play  of  the  alternating 
monsoons.  The  north  and  north-east  winds  prevail  in  winter  from  November  to 
April,  while  the  vendaval,  or  south  wind,  that  is,  the  monsoon  proper,  dominates 
in  summer  from  May  to  October,  when  the  sim  is  at  the  zenith.  Nevertheless 
the  normal  atmospheric  currents  are  subject  to  disturbances,  by  which  they  are 
frequently  replaced  by  winds  blowing  from  different  points  of  the  compass. 
Both  their  direction  and  force  are,  in  fact,  endlessly  modified  by  the  inequalities 
of  relief,  the  varying  trend  and  outlines  of  the  rising  grounds.  As  a  rule,  dry 
weather  and  clear  skies  prevail  in  winter,  while  the  summer  monsoon  is  accom- 
panied by  rains,  thunderstorms,  and  tornadoes. 

Yucatan  is  mainly  exposed  to  the  action  of  the  north-east  trade  ^ond,  but 
the  almost  exclusively  limestone  formation  destitute  of  surface  waters  becomes 
during  the  hot  season  a  focus  of  attraction  for  all  the  surrounding  sea  breezes. 
Stimulated  by  the  intense  solar  heat  during  the  day,  these  winds  follow  the  course 


of  the  sun  round  the  horizon.  The  regular  trades  are  also  frequently  interrupted 
by  the  fierce  gales  coming  from  the  north,  that  is,  from  the  Texan  and  Mississippi 
plains.  The  driest  mouths  are  March,  April  and  May,  when  showers  are  extremely 
rare.  But,  as  in  Chiapas,  this  dry  season  is  immediately  followed  by  torrential 
downpours  and  thunderstorms,  lasting  till  November,  when  the  almost  rainless 
regular  winds  again  set  in.  The  year  might  thus  be  divided  into  three  periods, 
a  dry,  a  wet,  and  a  windy  season. 

For  Europeans  the  Yucatan  climate  is  one  of  the  most  dangerous  in  the  Gulf. 
Yellow  fever  often  sweeps  away  numerous  victims;  but  still  more  dreaded  is 
consumption,  which  is  both  endemic  and  hereditary,  alike  fatal  to  those  con- 
stitutionally predisposed  and  to  persons  enjoying  good  health  and  strength. 
Mexican  soldiers,  removed  as  a  punishment  to  the  peninsula,  consider  themselves 
foredoomed  to  death.  In  Tabasco,  a  watery  region  where  the  people  live  as  much 
afloat  as  on  dry  land,  the  prevailing  epidemic  is  marsh  fever.  In  this  moist  land 
consumption,  the  scourge  of  the  dry  Yucatan  plateau,  is  almost  unknown. 

Both  the  flora  and  the  fauna  of  Chiapas  and  Yucatan  belong  to  the  same  zone 
as  those  of  south  Mexico,  with  the  addition  of  various  forms  characteristic  of 
Central  America.  This  southern  region,  intermediate  between  Mexico  proper 
and  the  isthmuses,  nowhere  presents  any  desert  wastes,  and  the  vegetation  is 
extremely  luxuriant  in  many  places,  even  on  the  slopes  of  the  Soconusco 
Mountains  and  the  neighbouring  coastlands,  where  the  rainfall  is  far  from 
copious.  Tree  ferns,  the  cacao  and  other  plants  requiring  much  moisture  and 
a  constantly  humid  atmosphere,  grow  vigorously,  while  on  the  lowlands  rice 
thrives  without  ii-rigation.  The  scanty  rainfall  is  here  supplemented  by  the 
moisture  percolating  below  the  surface  from  the  rising  grounds.  Even  the  arid 
limestone  plains  of  Yucatan  are  clothed  with  a  stunted  vegetation  ;  very  different, 
however,  from  the  magnificent  forest  growths  festooned  with  lianas,  which  cover 
the  fertile  districts  of  Chiapas  and  Tabasco.  Little  is  seen  except  thorny  scrub 
and  cactus  or  agave  thickets,  without  any  of  the  large  species  which,  on  the 
Anahuac  uplands,  grow  to  a  height  of  over  30  feet.  Here  the  rain-water  dis- 
appears too  rapidly  in  the  porous  limestone  to  nourish  a  rich  vegetation. 

Amongst  the  plants  pecidiar  to  Chiapas  and  Yucatan,  and  not  found  in  Mexico 
proper,  there  are  many  trees  and  dyewoods,  such  as  mahogany  and  campeachy,  or 
logwood  {hiematoxylon  campechianum) .  The  former  is  even  more  common  in 
various  parts  of  Central  America  than  in  Tabasco,  while  the  latter  is  exclusively 
confined  to  the  region  from  which  it  takes  its  ordinary  name.  In  favourable 
localities  this  hard-grained  plant  sometimes  attains  a  height  of  from  40  to  45  feet. 

Amongst  the  more  remarkable  members  of  the  Chiapas  faima  is  the  "  snuff- 
box "  tortoise,  which  has  its  lower  shell  furnished  at  both  ends  with  two  appen- 
dices enabling  it  to  shut  itself  completely  up  and  defy  all  enemies. 

Like  that  of  Anahuac,  the  population  of  East  Mexico  is  very  mixed,  although 
the  indigenous  element  is  here  relatively  greater.     The  Nahuas  proper  are  repre- 

TIIE  MAYAS.  155 

sented  in  Soconusco  along  the  historic  route  by  which  the  Aztecs  in  comparatively 
recent  times  migrated  from  Anahuac  to  Nicaragua.  The  warlike  Chiapauec  nation 
still  survives  in  the  north-west  part  of  the  state  which  from  them  takes  the  name 
of  Chiapas.  The  more  numerous  but  less  cultured  Tzendals,  Tzotzils,  and  Quelens 
("Bats")  occupy  the  forest  regions  comprised  between  the  Tehuantepec  depression 
and  the  Gruatemalan  frontier.  Lastly,  the  numerous  nomad  or  settled  groups 
belong  to  the  same  family  as  those  of  west  Guatemala — Lacandons  and  Chontals 
in  the  north,  Chols  and  Chafiabals  in  the  centre,  Mames  in  the  south.  They  all 
appear  to  be  connected  by  language,  primitive  usages,  and  traditions  with  the 
cultured  Mayas  of  Yucatan,  the  most  advanced  representatives  of  this  ethnical 
dinsion.  The  Mayas  held  out  more  valiantly  against  the  Spaniards  than  the 
Aztecs ;  they  would  also  appear  to  have  reached  a  higher  degree  of  civilisation 
than  the  Nahuas  in  pre-Columbian  times.  Although  never  actually  visited  by 
Columbus,  he  had,  nevertheless,  heard  of  their  fame.  The  work  of  extermination, 
as  described  by  Las  Casas  and  Diego  de  Landa,  resulted  in  the  almost  total  dis- 
appearance of  the  Maya  race ;  which,  however,  has  gradually  revived  and  even 
preserved  the  national  speech.  Those  acquainted  with  Spanish  are  said  to  abstain 
from  speaking  it,  and  Maya  is  still  generally  current  in  all  the  rural  districts 
except  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Campeachy.  In  the  inland  provinces  the 
descendants  of  the  Spaniards  have  to  a  large  extent  forgotten  their  mother  tongue, 
and  in  Yucatan  the  conquerors  may  be  said  to  have  themselves  been  conquered. 
Even  in  Merida  everybody  is  obliged  to  learn  Maya  in  order  to  hold  inter- 
course with  the  maceguales  {mazehuati),  as  the  natives  are  called. 

The  Spaniards  and  Mestizoes  are  represented  chiefly  in  the  towns  and  southern 
parts  of  Chiapas  which  are  traversed  by  the  more-frequented  highways  between 
Mexico  and  Guatemala.  The  half-caste  Maya-Spanish  race  is  one  of  the  finest 
in  America,  and  the  women  especially  are  remarkable  for  their  personal  charms. 
It  is  noteworthy  that  the  Indian  type  of  featui'es  is  perpetuated  from  generation 
to  generation.  However  white  the  complexion  may  become,  the  Yucatec  Mestizo 
always  preserves  certain  Maya  traits  by  which  he  may  be  at  once  recognised. 

The  range  of  the  Maya  language,  which  embraces  the  Huaxtec  territory  in  the 
State  of  Vera  Cruz,  extends  far  beyond  the  frontiers  of  Yucatan,  for  it  comprises 
nearly  the  whole  of  Tabasco,  a  part  of  Chiapas,  and  about  half  of  the  Guatemalan 
repubKc.  According  to  their  own  traditions  the  Mayas  reached  the  peninsula 
from  opposite  directions,  from  east  and  west,  from  the  sea  and  the  mainland.  A 
god  had  guided  them  across  the  ocean,  and  it  is  certain  that  they  were  acquainted 
with  navigation.  They  had  even  decked  vessels,  which  probably  hoisted  sails,  and 
voluntary  or  involuntary  voyages  frequently  took  place  between  Yucatan  and  the 
island  of  Cuba.  Once  established  in  the  peninsula  the  Mayas  long  remained  its 
peaceful  rulers.  In  a  region  lying  apart  from  the  regular  highway  of  migrations 
along  the  Pacific  coast  they  had  nothing  to  fear  from  invading  hosts.  At  the  time 
of  its  greatest  expansion  the  Aztec  empire  was  conterminous  with  Mayaland  only 
at  its  south-east  extremity,  and  the  Nahuas  had  scarcely  any  knowledge  of  Yucatan, 
where  the  more  cultured  part  of  the  nation  was  settled. 


The  Mayas,  properly  so  called,  are  of  mean  stature  with  robust  bony  frames, 
round  head,  delicate  hands  and  feet,  and  great  staying  power.  The  branch  of  the 
Maya  group  dwelling  in  the  Tabasco  forests,  and  known  as  Ghontals,  or  "  Savages," 
a  name  implying  that  they  had  remained  aliens  to  the  civilisation  of  their  Yucatec 
kindred,  are  a  remarkably  frugal  people.  A  few  roots  or  bananas  with  a  little 
maize  suffice  to  maintain  them  for  days  together  under  the  hardest  work  as  porters 
or  boatmen.  Their  costume  is  extremely  simple,  being  limited  to  drawers  and  a 
shirt  worn  as  a  blouse.  In  Yucatan  the  dress  of  the  men  is  the  same  as  that  of 
the  Spaniards ;  but  the  Maya  women,  more  faithful  to  the  national  usages,  have 
preserved  the  pre-Columbian  fashions.  The  Mayas  are  a  gentle,  inoffensive 
people,  and  a  market-day  in  a  Yucatan  town  presents  an  almost  unique  spectacle 
in  the  quiet  demeanour,  courtesy,  and  mutual  goodwill  of  buj'ers  and  sellers. 

Like  all  other  cultured  Indians,  the  Mayas  call  themselves  Catholics,  though 
mingling  with  their  private  worship  certain  rites  which  they  have  assuredly  not 
learnt  from  the  Spaniards.  Thus,  after  burials,  they  mark  with  chalk  the  path 
leading  from  the  grave  to  the  house,  so  that  when  the  time  comes  to  enter  the 
body  of  some  new-born  babe,  the  deceased  may  not  mistake  the  way  to  his  former 
dwelling.  From  this  it  is  evident  that,  despite  the  teaching  of  the  Church,  the 
doctrine  of  metempsychosis  still  survives  amongst  them.  They  have  also  preserved 
the  old  lore  regarding  the  healing  art  and  the  stars.  Many  astrologers  still 
observe  the  conjunctions  of  the  constellations,  predicting  from  them  the  public  and 
private  events  of  life,  the  results  of  the  harvests,  and  similar  forecastings.  Every 
village  has  its  "cunning  man,"  who  reads  the  future  in  a  quartz  crystal  globe. 
Before  the  disastrous  war  of  1847,  nearly  every  village  had  also  its  Chilan- 
Balam  Booh,  that  is,  the  "  Interpreter  of  Oracles,"  and  of  this  work  at  least 
sixteen  copies  are  still  known  to  exist.  Amongst  the  natives  are  certain  priests, 
either  very  complacent  or  else  very  ignorant  of  the  orthodox  rites,  for  they 
celebrate  with  the  people  the  misa  milpera,  or  "  field  Mass,"  at  which  a  cock  is 
sacrificed,  the  four  cardinal  points  being  first  sprinkled  with  some  fermented 
liquor,  with  invocations  both  to  the  Three  Persons  of  the  Holy  Trinity  and  to  the 
Pah  ah  tun,  that  is,  the  four  patrons  of  the  rain  and  the  crops.  These  tutelar 
deities  have,  however,  taken  Christian  names,  the  Red,  or  God  of  the  East,  having 
become  St.  Dominic ;  the  White,  or  God  of  the  North,  St.  Gabriel ;  the  Black, 
or  God  of  the  "West,  St.  James  ;  and  the  "  Yellow  Goddess  "  of  the  South,  Mary 

The  Maya  language,  at  once  guttural  and  sonorous,  and  pleasant,  especially  in 
the  mouth  of  the  women,  appears  to  be  the  purest  member  of  the  linguistic  family 
whose  various  other  branches — Tzendal,  Lacandon,  Quiche  (Kachiquel) — are 
spoken  between  the  Gulf  of  Mexico  and  the  Pacific  seaboard.  These  varioiis 
dialects,  however,  differ  from  each  other  merely  in  the  admixture  of  foreign  words 
and  a  certain  variation  in  the  pronunciation  and  in  the  final  syllables.  Pure  Maya 
is  at  present  spoken  only  in  the  north-east  part  of  the  country  round  about 
Valladolid  and  Tizimin. 

A  striking  proof  of  the  persistence  of  the  Maya  genius  is  afforded  by  the 



geograpbical  nomenclature  of  Yucatan,  nearly  all  tlie  native  names  having  been 
preserved  despite  Spanish  influences.     The  term  Yucatan,  which  has  prevailed 

Fig.  67. — Maya  Tovths. 

over  the  Spanish  Isla  de  Santa  Maria  de  hs  Eemedios,  is  itself  of  Maya  origin, 
though  its  exact  meaning  is  somewhat  doubtful.  It  probably  arose  from  a  mis- 
understanding on  the  part  of  the  Spanish  navigators  when  enquiring   after  the 


name  of  the  peninsula.  According  to  Bishop  Landa,  apostle  of  the  Mayas,  the 
usual  description  was  TJlumit  Cuz  el  Etel  Get,  that  is,  "  Turkey  and  Deer  Land." 
Mayapan,  the  name  of  the  ancient  capital,  was  also  frequently  applied  to  the 
whole  peninsula,  and  Maya,  the  name  of  the  people,  would  appear  to  have 
previously  been  given  to  the  country.  This  word,  Ma-ay-ha,  is  said  appropriately 
enough  to  mean  "  Waterless  Land." 

As  amongst  the  Aztecs,  the  fanatical  conquistadores  endeavoured  to  efface 
everything  recalling  the  national  religion.  Manuscripts  of  priceless  value  were 
thrown  to  the  flames,  the  idols  and  sculptures  ruthlessly  destroyed.  Nevertheless, 
a  few  traditions  have  survived  of  pre-Columbian  times,  and  by  their  aid  the 
learned  have  endeavoured  to  reconstitute  the  political  history  of  the  Maya  nation 
for  the  two  or  three  hundred  years  preceding  the  conquest.  The  first  legendary 
personages  In  Yucatan  history,  at  once  gods,  heroes,  and  founders  of  empires,  are 
Votan  and  Zamna,  who  were  partly  confused  together  in  the  popular  imagination, 
and  to  whom  were  attributed  all  the  national  institutions,  as  well  as  all  inventions 
made  since  the  beginning  of  the  world.  After  them  came  Cukulcan,  another 
mythical  ruler,  identified  by  archaeologists  with  the  Mexican  Quetzalcoatl  and 
with  the  Guatemalan  Gucumatz,  the  "  Feathered  Serpent,"  whose  history  coincides, 
in  fact,  with  that  of  this  Aztec  and  Quiche  domi-god.  Hence  there  can  scarcely 
be  any  doubt  that  the  epoch  personified  by  the  Maya  hero  represents  an  interval 
during  which  the  influence  of  the  Northern  Nahuas  was  dominant  in  the  peninsula. 
Then  followed  other  conquerors,  apparently  from  the  south,  though  their  very 
name,  Tutul  Xiu,  would  seem  to  imply  that  they  also  were  Nahuas.  According 
to  the  national  legend,  they  reigned  as  many  as  eleven  centuries  over  Mayaland, 
and  it  was  probably  under  their  rule  that  were  erected  the  remarkable  monuments 
of  Yucatan.  Despite  incessant  wars  and  local  revolutions  involving  the  destruc- 
tion of  many  cities,  this  dynasty  still  held  sway  in  a  part  of  the  territory  at  the 
time  of  the  Spanish  invasion. 

The  first  Spanish  navigators  had  already  been  struck  by  the  numerous  monu- 
ments of  Maya  architecture,  which  were  afterwards  mentioned  by  all  writers 
speaking  of  this  region.  But  during  the  present  century  no  attempt  was  made 
till  after  1830  to  systematically  examine  and  describe  these  astonishing  ruins. 
Uxmal  was  first  visited  and  described  by  Zavala  in  1835,  and  its  remains  were 
soon  after  studied  and  illustrated  by  Frederick  von  Waldeck.  But  public  interest 
was  first  awakened  by  the  traveller,  Stephens,  and  the  painter,  Catherwood,  who 
too'ether  twice  explored  the  land,  and  whose  writings*  may  be  regarded  as  the 
starting-point  for  the  archaeological  study  of  Yucatan. 

Since  that  time  the  ruined  cities  have  been  frequently  visited,  amongst  others, 
by  ]NL  Charnay,  whose  work  acquired  exceptional  value  from  the  magnificent 
photographs,  by  which  the  accuracy  of  previous  drawings  could  be  judged.  Over 
sixty  groups  of  extensive  ruins  are  alreadj'  known ;  but  it  is  impossible  to  say 
how  many  more  may  still  exist  in  the  unexplored  territory  of  the  independent 

*  Stephens,   Incidents  of  Travel  i»    Yucatan  ;    Catherwood,    Views  of  Ancient  Monuments  iti   Central 



Mavas.  Certain  arch^ologists,  proud  of  beiug  amongst  the  first  to  draw  attention 
to  the  splendid  structures  of  Chiapas  and  Yucatan,  did  not  fail  to  extol  their 
magnificence,  and  even  to  compare  them  with  the  temples  of  Egypt  and  Greece. 
Such  praise  was  certainly  not  justified,  for  the  Maj'a  buildings  lack  elegance 
of  proportion,  sobriety  of  ornamentation,  nobility  and  perfection  in  their  sculp- 
tures. Nevertheless,  their  vast  size,  massive  character,  and  lavish  wealth  of 
carvings  attest  a  civilisation  far  superior  to  that  of  many  civilised  peoples  in  the 
Old  World. 

Most  of  the  Yucatan  structures  stand  either  on  natural  eminences  or  on 
artificial  terraces.  They  are  usually  found  in  the  ■vicinity  of  cenotes,  or  even 
built  over  these  underground  reservoirs,  which  were  at  all  times  places  held  in 

Fig.  68. — Chief  Rxjins  of  TrcATi^-. 

ScaJe  1  : 4,200,000. 

■  60  Sliles. 

veneration  by  the  surrounding  populations.  The  monuments  usually  face  the 
cardinal  points,  but  not  with  astronomic  accuracy,  and  the  parts  are  rarely  disposed 
in  correct  order,  having  apparentl}'  been  erected  without  any  general  plan.  Some 
archaeologists  have  assigned  a  vast  antiquity  to  these  remains,  attributing  them  to 
peoples  who  had  already  disappeared  at  the  time  of  the  conquest.  But  this 
opinion  is  no  longer  held,  and  is  in  fact  refuted  by  tradition  and  internal  evidence. 
According  to  the  testimony  both  of  the  Spanish  conquerors  and  of  the  national 
chronicles,  the  Mayas  continued  to  use  the  temples  for  religious  purposes  down  to 
the  second  half  of  the  sixteenth  centuiy.  Nearly  all  the  Yucatan  buildings  affect 
the  pyramidal  form,  temples  and  palaces  alike  rising  from  a  broad  base  through 
a  series  of  receding  steps  to  the  crowning  structure  on  the  summit.  Such 
structures  were  absent  from  some  of    the  pyramids,   which  in  that  case  were 


truncated,  the  free  space  on  the  upper  terrace  forming  an  altar  open  to  the 
heavens,  where  the  sacrificing  priests  celebrated  their  rites  in  the  presence  of  the 
assembled  multitudes.  None  of  these  massive  piles  were  carried  to  any  great 
elevations — so  as,  for  instance,  to  overtop  the  large  forest  trees.  The  highest 
pyramids  fell  short  of  100  feet;  but  in  some  instances  the  base  covered  a  vast 
space,  that  of  Zayi,  near  Uxmal,  presenting  a  periphery  of  over  1,500  feet. 

According  to  VioUet  le  Due,  one  of  the  most  remarkable  architectural  triumphs 
of  the  Maya  builders  was  the  employment  of  mortar  to  cement  the  layers  of 
stone  in  a  solid  rock,  modelling  and  carving  the  cement  itself  with  figures  and 
ornamental  designs.  Mortar,  cement,  plaster,  stucco,  all  was  made  of  sand  and 
lime  mixed  in  different  proportions,  but  always  hard  as  stone.  Made  with  nearly 
pure  hydraulic  lime,  it  is  so  thoroughly  adhesive  both  in  the  mass  and  when 
applied  as  a  surface  coating,  that  it  can  scarcely  be  chipped  off  by  the  hammer. 

In  the  Yucatan  buildings  and  round  about  very  little  pottery  and  instruments 
have  been  found,  although  such  objects  are  usually  met  in  abundance  in  historic 
and  prehistoric  stations.  Idols  also  have  rarely  been  brought  to  light,  doubtless 
because  they  were  mostly  hidden  away  by  the  natives  after  the  arrival  of  the 
Spaniards,  who  destroyed  all  images  they  could  lay  their  hands  upon.  But  the 
walls  are  sometimes  found  completely  covered  with  sculptures  and  figures  in  bas- 
relief.  The  type  of  such  figures  is  the  same  as  that  of  the  present  natives, 
especially  the  eastern  Lacandons,  except  that  it  is  highly  exaggerated,  especially 
in  the  temples  of  Palenque.  Receding  forehead  and  arched  nose  were  regarded 
as  marks  of  nobility,  and  siich  features  were  naturally  given  to  human  or  divine 
images  held  up  to  the  veneration  of  the  people.  There  is  in  any  case  reason  to 
believe  that  in  those  times,  as  well  as  at  present,  the  heads  of  the  children 
were  artificially  deformed  by  the  Maya  women.  Symbolic  animals,  especially  the 
serpent,  embellish  the  walls,  on  which  are  also  seen  ornaments  in  the  form  of 
elephants'  trunks.  From  this  it  has  been  hastily  concluded  that  the  Maya  sculptors 
were  acquainted  with  that  animal,  and  consequently  that  they  had  received  their 
first  lessons  from  masters  of  Asiatic  origin.  Some  of  the  bas-reliefs  represent 
social  scenes ;  but  nowhere  have  been  discovered  warlike  subjects,  such  as  those 
covering  the  walls  of  the  Assyrian  palaces  and  Egj-ptian  temples.  Hence  the 
Maya  would  appear  to  have  been  in  the  enjoyment  of  profound  peace  when  the 
monuments  of  their  great  artistic  epoch  were  erected.  The  almost  total  absence 
of  fortifications  round  their  cities  and  buildings  also  attests  the  tranquil  condition 
of  the  land,  and  the  peaceful  character  of  its  inhabitants.  At  present  all  these 
grey  carvings  intermingled  on  the  crumbling  waUs,  such  as  those  of  Uxmal  some 
350  feet  long,  seem  to  be  merged  in  a  chaos  of  indistinct  forms.  But  they  were 
formerly  relieved  by  fresh  colours — yellow,  red,  white,  and  black — sharply  contrast- 
ing one  with  the  other,  and  presenting  a  mj'stic  or  historic  subject  understood  by  all. 

The  "  calculiform "  hierogl}'phics,  so  named  from  their  contours,  usually 
rounded  like  those  of  cakuli  or  pebbles,  are  all  arranged  in  long  lines  like  the 
written  characters  of  a  book,  and  undoubtedly  served  as  the  explauatoiy  text  of 
the   associated  carvings.      These  writings  still   remain  undeciphered,  but  may 


possibly  one  day  reveal  the  history  of  the  people  by  whom  the  buildings  were 
erected.  At  least  they  may  explain  the  purposes  of  edifices  which  are  at  present 
designated  under  fantastic  Spanish  names.  A  clue  may  also  thus  be  obtained  to 
determine  their  date,  at  present  a  subject  of  interminable  discussion  amongst 
archaeologists.  The  same  characters  were  also  reproduced  on  textUes  and  on  bark, 
and  such  manuscripts  could  be  either  rolled  up  or  bound  together  in  thin  volumes. 
But  hieroglyphic  documents  in  the  Maya  language  are  extremely  rare.  Four 
only  are  preserved  in  European  collections ;  nor  has  their  interpretation  been  yet 
facilitated  by  the  discoverj^  of  anj'  bilingual  inscription,  such  as  the  Rosetta  stone 
and  the  Bisutun  cuneiform  tables,  which  served  to  unravel  the  mystery  of  the 
Egyptian  hieroglj'phics  and  the  Persian  and  Mesopotamian  cuneiform  writings.  Yet 
the  Spanish  priests  were  acquainted  with  a  Maya  alphabet,  and  the  manuscript 
possessed  by  one  of  these  missionaries  has  even  been  recovered.*  The  only  infor- 
mation still  extant  on  the  nature  of  the  Yucatan  writing  system  is  contained  in 
this  work,  which  belonged  to  the  fanatical  bishop,  Diego  de  Landa,  who  threw  to 
the  flames  hundreds  of  manuscripts  found  in  the  temples.  Landa's  book  explains 
only  some  sixty  of  several  thousand  signs,  and  as  each  sign  may  be  replaced  by 
others  having  the  same  meaning  though  differently  formed,  it  is  obvious  that  no 
translation  is  at  present  possible. 


Being  separated  fi-om  the  interior  of  Chiapas  by  a  coast  range  running  close  to 
the  shore,  and  crossed  neither  by  great  trade  routes  nor  by  railways,  the  groups  of 
habitations  situated  on  the  Pacific  seaboard  naturally  possess  but  slight  commer- 
cial importance  ;  nor  are  there  any  good  harbours  on  this  coast  to  attract  shipping. 
Nevertheless  such  is  the  fertility  of  the  soil  and  the  excellence  of  its  produce  that 
Soconusco  has  already  acquired  a  high  reputation  in  the  foreign  markets. 

Here  the  most  frequented  seaports  are  Tonala  and  San  Benito,  ov  Soconusco,  \>o\h 
accessible  to  vessels  of  light  draught  through  dangerous  passages  which  communi- 
cate with  long  coast  lagoons.  Although  the  nearest  port  to  the  capital  of  Chiapas, 
Tonala  has  a  yearly  trade  of  less  than  £40,000  ;  in  the  neighbourhood  are  two  hills 
scarcely  surpassed  in  the  whole  world  for  their  wealth  of  iron  ores.  San  Benito, 
which  exports  the  cacao  of  Soconusco,  has  nearly  double  the  trade  of  Tonala,  and 
it  cannot  fail  to  acquire  a  rapid  development  when  the  railway  is  opened  to 
Tapachula,  on  the  slopes  of  the  Soconusco  Mountains  near  the  Guatemala  frontier. 
Union  Juarez,  founded  a  few  years  ago  close  to  the  border  at  an  altitude  of  4,300 
feet,  is  the  centre  of  the  Chiapas  coffee  plantations  ;  Chiapa  de  las  Indies,  the  ancient 
capital  of  the  Chiapauec  nation,  which  has  given  its  name  to  the  whole  province, 
lies  on  the  Atlantic  slope  in  the  valley  of  the  Grijalva.  Above  the  present  town 
and  its  numerous  ruins  stands  a  bluff  crowned  with  the  remains  of  the  Chiapa  Nan- 
duime  fortress,  behind  whose  ramparts  the  Chiapanec  warriors  defied  the  attacks 
of  the  Aztec  forces.     Here  also   they  long  held  out  against   the  Spaniards  and, 

*  Daniel  G.  Brinton,  The  Books  of  OiiUm-Balam. 
VOL.   xvn.  M 


when   reduced  to  the  last  extremity,  the  survivors,  to  the  number  of  2,000,  threw 
themselves  with  their  wives  and  children  over  the  precipice. 

A  few  miles  west  of  Chiapa,  in  a  lateral  valley  of  the  Grijalva,  lies  the  little 
town  of  Ta.ctla,  which  was  for  a  few  years  made  the  capital  of  the  state  to  punish 
the  rebellious  inhabitants  of  San  Cristobal  Las  Casus,  the  present  capital.  This  place 
stands  on  the  site  of  the  old  Indian  city  of  Ghoucl  or  Hite-Zucaflan.  It  has  received 
its  present  designation  of  Las  Casas  in  honour  of  the  valiant  defender  of  the  Indians, 
Bartholomew  de  Las  Casas,  bishop  of  Chiapas.  Beyond  the  Anahuac  plateau  San 
Cristobal  is  the  highest  city  in  Mexico,  though  the  estimates  of  its  altitude  vary 
from  6,240  to  7,000  feet. 

San  Juan  Bautista,  formerly  Villa  Uermosa,  capital  of  Tabasco,  is  a  small 
place  occupying  an  opening  in  the  extensive  forest  which  covers  the  whole  of  the 
delta  region.  It  is  connected  by  a  short  railway  with  the  Grijalva,  and  thus  com- 
mands the  magnificent  system  of  navigable  waterways  ramifying  over  a  district 
manv  hundred  square  miles  in  extent,  reaching  from  the  delta  to  the  neck  of  the 
Yucatan  peninsula.  Though  at  present  destitute  even  of  carriage  roads,  the  capital 
is  destined  in  the  near  future  to  become  a  converging-point  for  the  railways  running 
north,  east  and  south  towards  Mexico,  Yucatan  and  Guatemala.  Its  outlet  on  the 
Atlantic  is  the  port  of  Frontcra  {Guadalupe),  on  the  right  bank  of  the  Grijalva. 

The  Usumacinta,  which  joins  the  Grijalva  above  Frontera,  has  no  towns  in 
the  part  of  its  vast  basin  comprised  within  the  Mexican  States  of  Chiapas,  Tabasco 
and  Campeachy.  Palenque,  or  the  "Palisade,"  the  best-known  place  in  this 
region,  is  a  mere  village  lying  at  an  altitude  of  about  350  feet  on  one  of  the 
last  slopes  of  the  plateau  limited  by  the  alluvial  plains  of  the  Usumacinta. 
Palenque,  founded  during  the  second  half  of  the  sixteenth  century  under  the 
patronage  of  Santo  Domingo,  soon  acquired  great  importance  as  a  centre  of  the 
transit  trade  and  converging-point  of  the  numerous  tracks  around  the  low-lying 
plains  with  their  ramifying  system  of  countless  canals.  Despite  its  isolated 
position  in  the  midst  of  forests,  it  also  became  during  the  last  century  the  chief 
station  for  caravans  journeying  between  Guatemala  and  Campeachy.  But  the 
shifting  of  the  trade  routes  has  again  consigned  it  to  solitude. 

About  ten  miles  south-west  of  Palenque  lie  the  imposing  ruins  of  a  forest- 
grown  city  whose  very  name  has  perished,  though  supposed  to  have  been  either 
Nachan  or  Colhuacan,  the  "  Serpent  City."  The  inhabitants  of  Palenque  were 
unaware  of  its  existence  till  the  middle  of  the  last  century,  when  the  ruins  were 
accidentally  discovered  in  1746.  Their  systematic  exploration  began  in  1773, 
and  since  that  time  they  have  been  frequently  visited,  described,  and  reproduced 
in  drawings  and  photographs.  But  great  ravages  have  been  made  by  the  damp 
climate,  the  rank  vegetation,  the  fires  kindled  in  the  midst  of  the  ruins  to  clear 
the  ground  for  tillage,  the  eagerness  of  explorers  to  enrich  public  museums  or 
their  private  collections,  by  ignorant  travellers  carrying  off  souvenirs  of  their 
visit,  and  even  by  the  wanton  love  of  destruction.  The  largest  structure,  known 
as  the  palacio,  appears  to  have  really  been  a  "palace"  of  some  kind,  or  the 
residence  of  a  religious  community,  but  certainly  not  a  temple,  for  it  is  divided  into 



a  large  number  of  chambers,  passages,  and  apartments  of  all  kinds.  Like  all  the 
other  monuments,  it  stands  on  a  raised  platform,  which  takes  the  usual  shape  of 
a  truncated  pyramid.  One  of  the  facades  shows  a  row  of  pillars  supporting  a 
projecting  architrave  of  a  highly  original  design.  The  walls  of  this  edifice  are 
covered  with  sculptures,  while  in. another  was  found  the  famous  "Greek  cross," 
sj'mbol  of  the  "  tree  of  life,"  or  of  "  fecundity,"  which  has  given  rise  to  so  much 
discussion  amongst  archaeologists.  South-west  of  Palenque,  about  midway  on  the 
road  to  San  Cristobal,  capital  of  Chiapas,  in  an  upland  valley  watered  by  a  western 
affluent  of  the  Usumacinta,  are  grouped  the  houses  of  Ococingo,  whose  name  has 
also  been  assigned  to  an  ancient  city  lying  five  miles  farther  east.     By  the  Indians 

Fig.  69.  — Etjins  c>  the  Lacandon  and  Tzexbal  Couxtetes. 

Scale  I  ;  2,S0U,000. 

X  ■v.^iBartdteme '.•  ..  .' ,■  .^  •.  -s-f 

Atne  CJ0 

WesT  oF   C- 


.  GO  Miles. 

this  place  is  called  Tonihi,  that  is,  "Stone  Houses,"  and  the  ruins  are  said,  on 
jDure  conjecture,  to  be  those  of  Tulha,  ancient  capital  of  the  southern  Toltecs. 
Amongst  them  was  discovered  a  plaster  carving,  whose  perfectly  Egyptian 
expression  greatly  surprised  Stephens,  Catherwood,  and  Brasseur  de  Bourbourg. 
It  takes  the  form  of  a  medallion  with  large  wings  spread  out  above  the  porch  of 
a  palace.  In  the  whole  district  between  Ococingo  and  Palenque  the  hills  av.d 
mountains  are  crowned  with'  sepulchral  mounds,  and  according  to  the  inhabitants 
of  the  countr)^  other  magnificent  structures  are  hidden  awaj'  amongst  the  hills 
of  Tumhala,  and  farther  south  in  the  direction  of  San  Cristobal  and  Comitan. 

One  of  these  unknown  cities  in  the  Lacaudon   territory  was  lately  discovered 
on  the  left  bank  of  the  Usumacinta,  in  a  disti-ict  which  must  have  been  frequently 


visited  by  the  Guatemalan  and  Campeachy  traders.  But  all  reference  to  these 
ruins  of  Menche  were  of  the  vaguest  character  till  the  year  1868,  when  they 
were  first  distinctly  mentioned  by  Suarez.  Since  then  \he\  have  been  visited  by 
Rockstroh  in  1881,  by  Maudslay  and  Chai'nay  in  1882,  and  the  last-mentioned 
traveller  gave  them  the  name  of  Lorillard  City,  in  honour  of  the  American  citizen 
who  defrayed  the  expenses  of  his  expedition.  The  ruined  city  stands  on  a  head- 
land encircled  by  the  river  below  its  confluence  with  the  Ococingo,  and  above 
the  series  of  rapids  extending  all  the  way  to  Tenosiqtte.  Some  heaps  of  stones 
near  the  shore  look  like  the  butment  of  a  broken  bridge,  but  they  are  merely  the 
remains  of  a  sustaining  wall  at  the  base  of  the  amphitheatre  of  houses  and  temples. 
To  their  very  summit  the  escarpments  are  cut  into  flights  of  steps,  or  else  faced 
with  masonry,  with  large  trees  now  growing  through  the  cracks  and  fissures  ;  all 
the  building  materials  exactly  resemble  those  of  Palenque.  The  largest  temple, 
the  facade  of  which  is  partly  overgrown  with  interlaced  branches  and  foliage,  is 
disposed  in  three  receding  storeys,  where  traces  are  still  preserved  of  the  original 
stucco  coating  and  paintings ;  the  topmost  storey  is  arranged  in  little  regular 
square  niches,  each  of  which  was  decorated  with  sculptures.  One  of  the  lintels 
represents  two  figures  supporting  "  Latin  crosses,"  and  in  the  court  is  seen  an 
idol  sitting  cross-legged,  the  hands  resting  on  the  knees,  and  the  face  crowned 
with  an  enormous  headdress,  which  takes  the  form  of  a  diadem  of  precious  stones 
surmounted  by  huge  feathers.  This  serene  and  dignified  image,  absolutely  unique 
in  the  New  World,  recalls  the  buddhas  of  the  extreme  East.  The  bowls  of  coarse 
clay  found  close  by  contained  a  resinous  substance,  probably  the  incense  which 
the  Lacandons  even  recently  still  burnt  in  honour  of  the  deity. 

The  little  town  of  Tenosiqite  below  the  rapids,  and  at  the  entrance  of  the  plains 
the  village  of  Balancan,  are  the  chief  groups  of  habitations  on  the  lower  Usu- 
macinta.  Carmen,  the  onlj'  town  in  this  part  of  the  delta,  lies  on  a  strait  through 
which  the  Terminos  lagoon  conimimicates  with  the  sea. 

The  picturesque  city  of  Campeachy  (Gampeche),  with  its  irregular  streets  and 
houses  shaded  by  cocoauut  groves,  is  surrounded  by  ramparts  and  commanded  by 
forts  crowning  the  encircling  hills.  Campeachy  is  still  one  of  the  most  beautiful 
cities  in  Mexico,  but  it  has  lost  the  relative  importance  it  enjoyed  duiing  the 
days  of  commercial  monopolies.  During  the  Spanish  rule  it  was  one  of  the  three 
privileged  places  on  the  east  coast  north  of  the  isthmus  of  Darien — Vera  Cruz  and 
San  Juan  de  Nicaragua  being  the  other  two — which  were  open  to  the  trade  with 
Spain,  and,  thanks  to  this  advantage,  it  had  developed  extensive  relations  with 
the  interior.  At  that  time  Campeachy  was  not  only  the  emporium  for  the  whole 
of  Yucatan,  but  also  served  as  the  outlet  for  the  produce  of  Tabasco,  Chiapas,  and 
aven  Guatemala.  Now,  however,  these  regions  have  their  own  direct  trade  routes, 
and  even  Yucatan  itself  finds  Carmen  a  more  convenient  outlet  for  Campeachy 
wood  and  other  exports.  If  Campeachy  possessed  a  real  harbour,  it  would  have 
at  least  attracted  to  itself  a  great  part  of  the  exchanges  of  the  peninsula,  but  the 
roadstead  with  its  shelving  bed  is  exposed  to  the  full  fury  of  the  dreaded  nortes ; 
the  pier  projecting  seawards  does  not  reach  suificient  depths  to  be  accessible  at 



all  times,  so  that  vessels  drawing  thirteen  or  f oui'teen  feet  have  to  anchor  at  a 
distance  of  five  miles  from  the  port.  Its  trade  is  consequently  limited  to  cocoa- 
nuts,  some  timber,  sugar,  hides,  and  salt. 

The  scarcity  of  towns,  villages,  or  even  hamlets  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the 
sea,  as  shown  by  the  blank  spaces  on  the  map  of  Yucatan,  is  apt  to  cause  surprise 
The  sparse  popidation  on  the  coastlands  is  partly  explained  by  the  want  of  shelter 
on  the  seaboard,  and  the  presence  of  insalubrious  coast  lagoons  or  marshes,  but 
it  is  also  due  to  the  filibustering  expeditions  to  which  the  people  were  exposed 

Fig.  70. — Meeid.4.  axd  Noeth-West  Yucatan. 
Scale  I  ;  1,000,000. 

VVest    or    breenwic'n 



0  to5 

5  Fathoms 
and  upwaids. 

.  24  JCles. 

during  the  last  two  centuries.  The  English  corsairs,  landing  suddenly  in  some 
creek,  often  penetrated  far  into  the  interior,  killing  the  men,  carrying  off  the 
children,  sacking  and  burning  towns  and  villages.  Although  these  raids  have 
long  ceased,  no  special  industries  have  been  developed,  while  the  natural  resources 
of  the  coastlands  have  not  been  sufiicient  to  attract  immigrants  from  the  interior. 
Hence  ia  this  region  the  population  is  still  mostly  concentrated  about  Merida, 
where  it  was  also  most  dense  at  the  time  of  the  conquest.  Merida,  capital  of  the 
State  of  Yucatan,  and  formerly  of  the  whole  peninsula,  stands  on  the  site  of 
the  ancient  2fd,  or  Ti-lioo,  that  is,  "City"  in  a  pre-eminent   sense.     Most  of  its 


monuments  were  pyramidal  structures  with  their  upper  terrace  crowned  by 
temples  or  palaces.  All  have  been  destroyed,  and  the  materials  used  in  the 
modern  buildings,  which  are  consequently  here  and  there  embellished  with 
ancient  carvings  embedded  in  the  walls.  In  the  outskirts  alone  are  found  the 
remains  of  pyramids,  one  of  which,  till  recently  occupied  by  a  community  of 
Franciscan  friars,  covers,  with  its  cloisters  and  gardens,  a  surface  of  about  five 
acres ;  its  picturesque  ruins  present  .somewhat  the  aspect  of  a  citadel.  According 
to  ancient  Maya  usage,  some  of  the  streets  traversing  the  city  are  still  indicated 
at  either  end  by  the  sculptured  image  of  the  symbolic  animals,  such  as  the  flamingo 
or  hawk,  to  which  the  thoroughfare  was  dedicated.  The  white  terraced  houses 
with  their  Moorish  courts  resemble  those  of  Andalusia,  but  those  of  the  suburbs, 
surrounded  by  groves  and  gardens,  are  still  constructed  in  the  Maya  style.  They 
are  little  houses  of  stone,  or.  else  of  plaited "  bamboo,  raised  a  couple  of  feet  above 
the  street  level,  with  a  porch  in  front  which  is  enclosed  by  walls  on  both  sides 
and  provided  with  a  continuous  bench  all  round.  In  the  central  part  of  the  city 
is  still  seen  the  emblazoned  palace  built  for  himself  by  Montejo,  founder  of  the 
new  town,  in  1542. 

Thanks  to  its  trade  in  henequeu,  or  agave  fibre,  of  which  from  40,000  to 
60,000  tons  are  annually  exported,  Merida  has  become  the  converging-point  of 
several  lines  which,  when  completed,  will  cover  the  whole  peninsula  with  a  net- 
work of  railways.  For  the  present,  however,  the  capital  is  connected  only  by  a 
road  with  its  ancient  port,  the  little  town  of  Sisa!,  at  the  north-west  corner  of 
Yucatan.  From  this  seaport  the  henequen  takes  its  English  name  of  Sisal  hemp, 
by  which  it  is  known  in  the  trade.  The  price  of  this  valuable  fibre  has  increased 
sixfold  since  the  middle  of  the  present  century.  The  roadstead  of  Sisal,  being 
exposed  to  the  dangerous  north  winds,  was  abandoned  in  1871,  when  a  new 
"  marina  "  was  founded  on  the  coast  due  north  of  Merida,  with  which  it  is  con- 
nected by  a  railway  22  miles  long.  The  line  is  carried  over  the  coast  lagoon  by 
a  strong  embankment.  The  new  town,  which  replaces  the  old  Indian  village  of 
Tuxuhi,  has  already  justified  its  name  of  Procjirso,  although  the  only  advantage  it 
enjoys  over  Sisal  is  its  relative  proximity  to  the  capital.  To  shipping  it  is  equally 
inaccessible,  large  vessels  having  to  anchor  in  an  open  roadstead  from  three  to  six 
miles  from  the  port.  So  dangerous  is  this  roadstead  that  steamers  and  sailing 
vessels  are  always  ready  to  weigh  anchor  and  escape  to  the  high  sea ;  towards  noon 
every  day  communication  with  the  shore  becomes  almost  impossible,  owing  to  the 
violence  of  the  surf  under  the  action  of  the  fierce  northern  gales. 

Over  50  miles  east  of  Merida,  following  the  windings  of  the  route,  and  on  the 
verge  of  the  more  thickly-peopled  districts,  stands  the  ancient  city  of  Izamal, 
so  named  from  Itzmatul  (Itzenmatul),  "God  of  the  Dew."  But  this  old 
capital  was  already  in  ruins  at  the  time  of  the  conquest,  and  was  regarded  only 
as  a  holy  city  to  which  pilgrims  flocked  from  all  parts  of  the  four  highways 
radiating  in  the  direction  of  the  cardinal  points.  Twelve  pyramidal  or  conic 
mounds,  each  crowned  with  a  temple  or  palace,  rose  at  that  time  above  the  city, 
but  are  now  merely  shapeless  piles  of  refuse  visible  above  the  dense   foliage  of 


Sacbe,  Kabah,  Sanacte,  Labna  and  Zai/i.  The  ruins  of  the  latter  place  are  amongst 
the  finest  in  Yucatan  ;  it  is  looked  on  as  a  haunted  city  of  the  dead  by  the  natives, 
who  rarely  venture  to  approach  it,  declaring  that  at  times  a  mysterious  music 
is  heard  vibrating  among  the  stones.  The  district  stretching  south  of  the  limestone 
hills  is  strewn  with  ruins  as  far  as  the  town  of  Iturbide,  recently  founded  in  the 
borderland  between  civilised  Yucatan  and  the  territory  held  by  the  independent 
wild  tribes. 

In  the  eastern  part  of  Yucatan  the  Spanish  name  of  Valladolid  has  been 
given  to  the  chief  town,  the  ancient  Zaci,  or  "  White  Clay."  Zaci,  which  is  not 
yet  connected  with  Merida  by  rail,  lies  in  the  centre  of  a  tolerably  fertile  district, 
which  is  so  salubrious  that  consumptive  persons  resort  to  it  from  Campeachy 
and  Merida.  But,  like  so  many  other  places  in  Yucatan,  it  is  more  interesting 
for  the  surrounding  mines  than  for  its  modern  structures,  especially  since  the 
Maya  revolt,  when  it  was  nearly  depopulated  and  its  cotton  mills  destroyed. 
Chichen-Itza,  former  residence  of  the  Itza  dynasty,  lies  twenty  miles  west  of 
Valladolid ;  it  is  now  a  mere  village  strewn  with  ruins  which,  during  the  wars 
of  the  conquest,  were  successively  occupied  by  the  Indians  and  Spaniards  as  strong- 
holds. The  pyramid  of  Chichen-Itza,  which  is  still  in  a  good  state  of  preservation, 
is  approached  by  a  monumental  flight  of  steps  lined  with  trees  and  terminating 
at  the  base  in  two  colossal  snakes  with  yawning  jaws. 

In  a  building  which  he  called  the  "  gymnasium,"  Stephens  discovered  some 
paintings  which  he  pronounced  to  be  the  most  precious  gems  of  native  art  to  be 
found  anywhere  on  the  American  continent.  Unfortunatelj%  the  colours  have 
been  almost  completely  effaced  by  the  weather  and  visitors.  One  of  the  subjects 
represented  a  large  vessel  with  raised  pi-ow  and  poop,  tiller  and  rudder.  At 
Chichen-Itza,  Dr.  Le  Plongeon  also  discovered  under  a  heap  of  rubbish  26  feet 
thick  the  finest  statue  of  Nahua  art  now  preserved  in  the  Museimi  of  Mexico.  It 
is  the  elEgy  of  Chac-Mool,  the  "  Tiger  King,"  reclining  on  his  back  and  looking 
towards  the  right ;  the  features  are  quite  regular  and  the  head  is  adorned  with 
fillets  in  the  Egyptian  fashion.  The  simple  majesty  of  this  statue  stands  in 
striking  contrast  to  the  figures,  overcharged  with  barbaric  ornaments,  which  are 
met  in  so  many  other  temples  of  Mexico,  Tabasco,  and  Chiapas.  The  reservoir 
from  which  Chichen-Itza  takes  its  name,  meaning  "  Mouth  of  the  Springs,"  is  a 
broad  gloomy  well  about  500  feet  in  circuit,  with  circular  ledges  carried  round  the 
walls  by  means  of  projecting  layers  of  masonry.  In  its  deep  green  water,  65  feet 
below  the  rocky  surface,  are  reflected  the  overhanging  trees  and  festoons  of 
pendent  creepers.  So  recently  as  1560,  human  victims  were  still  cast  alive  into 
this  well  as  sacrifices  to  the  gods. 

Farther  south  follow  El  Meco  and  Cankun  over  against  Mujeres  Island  ; 
Paalmul  and  Pamal  on  the  shores  of  the  strait  separating  Cozumel  Island  from 
the  mainland ;  lastly,  Tuhim  crowning  a  cliff  stiU  farther  south.  The  last- 
mentioned  appears  to  have  been  a  powerful  capital  which  was  defended  on  the 
land  side  by  a  solid  enclosure  still  in  good  repair.  The  towers  flanking  this 
rampart  are  also  well  preserved,  and  appear  to  be  the  same  as  those  mentioned  by 


the  early  navigators.  The  architecture  of  the  Tuluin  buildings  presents  some 
peculiar  features,  which  seem  to  point  at  a  mingling  of  cultures  in  this  remote 
regioa  of  Mayaland.  Some  of  the  temples  cause  surprise  by  the  Lilliputian 
dimensions ;  pierced  bj-  a  narrow  opening  scarcely  wide  enough  for  a  single  man 
to  creep  in,  they  would  seem  to  have  been  made  for  a  race  of  dwarfs.  The  part  of 
the  seaboard  where  Tulum  is  situated  belongs  at  present  to  the  free  Indians,  and 
in  the  same  district  stands  a  "  holy  rood,"  where  they  gather  on  solemn  occasions 
to  hear  the  "  voice  of  God,"  which  issues  from  the  cross,  appointing  the  chiefs, 
declaring  peace  or  war,  condemning  or  pardoning  the  guilty.  A  Catholic  priest 
who  had  ventured  to  penetrate  into  the  country  was  brought  before  this  cross, 
which  sentenced  him  to  death. 

Mujeres,  like  all  the  other  islands  fringing  the  coast,  has  remained  in  pos- 
session of  the  Yucatecs.  Its  very  name  of  "  "Women's  Island "  recalls  the 
special  part  played  by  it  in  the  religion  of  the  Mayas  at  a  time  when  crowds 
flocked  to  its  temple  to  worship  the  female  deities  of  Yucatan.  At  present  it  is 
inhabited  by  a  few  hundred  black  and  half-caste  fishers,  who  trade  directly  with 

Cozumel,  a  much  larger  island  lying  farther  south,  some  twelve  miles  off  the 
coast,  was  also  a  much-frequented  place  of  pilgrimage.  It  is  the  ancient 
Ahcuzamil,  or  "  Swallow  Island,"  whose  temple  contained  the  image  of  a  god  with 
swallow  feet.  Cozumel,  which  is  densely  wooded,  has  not  yet  been  explored, 
although,  the  Spaniards  had  occupied  it  even  before  the  conquest  of  Yucatan,  and 
had  built  a  church  whose  ruins  are  still  to  be  seen.  "When  these  ruins  were 
rediscovered,  with  the  altar  and  cross  in  the  midst  of  the  bush,  it  was  supposed  that 
they  represented  a  Christian  civilisation  dating  from  pre-Columbian  times.  There 
still  remain  some  traces  of  the  paved  highway,  crossed  by  other  routes,  which 
traversed  the  island  from  north  to  south. 

The  southern  part  of  the  coast  between  Tulum  and  Chetumal  Bay  is  sparsely 
peopled  by  a  few  full-blood  Indians,  who  have  preserved  their  language,  customs, 
and  independence.  The  territory  of  these  free  Mayas  is  bounded  on  the  north  bj" 
the  so-called  "  Southern  Line,"  that  is,  the  chain  of  fortified  posts  which  extends 
nearly  along  20^  north  latitude  through  Pefo,  Ixmul,  and  Tihosuco.  Formerly  they 
frequently  crossed  this  "pale,"  and  wasted  the  land  as  far  as  Yalladolid  and 
Tekax,  and  were  even  reported  to  have  hacked  to  pieces  two  thousand  persons  in 
the  latter  place  with  the  manehette*  At  present  the  civilised  Yucatecs  are 
separated  by  a  kind  of  march  or  borderland  from  their  independent  kindred,  who 
no  longer  dare  to  cross  over. 

These  independent  Mayas  are  usually  called  "  barbarians,"  although  scarcely 
less  civilised  than  the  others.  They  till  the  land  in  the  same  way,  and  keep  their 
roads  in  good  repair;  they  make  their  own  manchettes,  shaped  like  short  scimitars, 
with  iron  imported  from  Belize,  and  procure  their  rifles  from  the  same  British 
settlement.    Some  of  them  being  well-made  stalwart  men,  they  make  good  soldiers, 

•  Manchette  is  tlie  French-Creole  form  of  the  Spanish  machete,  a  kind  of  hooked  knife  used  in  tropical 
America  for  clearing'  the  bush. 


going  through  their  drill  with  great  precision,  and  keeping  their  arms  in  perfect 
condition.  Nobody  can  read  or  write,  and  the  rites  of  the  Catholic  religion  have 
been  forgotten,  although  they  build  cabins  to  which  thej'  give  the  name  of 
churches,  and  which  serve  as  inns  for  wayfarers ;  crosses  are  also  set  up  at 
intervals  along  the  highways.  The  cacique  is  at  once  king  and  high  priest,  and 
rules  more  by  might  than  right,  or  until  some  other  chief  becomes  strong  enough 
to  seize  the  supreme  authority  in  his  turn.  Saiifa  CrKz,  which  lies  on  the  plains 
west  of  Asencion  Bay,  is  their  present  capital,  and  this  place  was  valiantlj' 
defended  against  the  forces  sent  from  Merida  in  1871.  Bacalar,  or  rather 
Bakhalal,  the  "  Reed  Palisade,"  on  the  swampy  margin  of  a  lagoon  draining  to 
Chetumal  Bay,  was  a  Spanish  settlement  foimded  in  1544  under  the  name  of 
Salamanca.  Destroyed  by  the  bucaneers  in  1633,  it  was  rebuilt  and  fortified  in 
1730,  and  even  recently  still  carried  on  a  brisk  trade  with  British  Honduras  ;  but 
the  Indian  insurgents  took  it  by  surprise  and  massacred  the  whole  population. 
The  remains  of  some  of  the  people  are  still  seen  piled  up  in  the  old  church  where 
they  were  slain. 

IV. — Economic  axd  Social  Coxditiox  of  Mexico. 

The  growth  of  the  Mexican  population  has  not  been  so  rapid  as  that  of  most 
other  American  states.  The  normal  rate  of  increase  has  been  greatly  retarded  b}- 
the  sanguinary  war  of  independence,  which  lasted  two  years ;  by  military  con- 
spiracies and  local  revolutions,  fomented  by  personal  ambitions,  but  reallj-  due  to 
class  and  racial  hatreds ;  by  the  misery  of  the  peasantry  deprived  of  their  lands  ; 
by  the  depredations  of  the  wild  tribes.  Apaches  and  Comanches  on  the  northern, 
Mayas  on  the  southern  frontiers  ;  lastly,  by  two  foreign  wars,  one  with  the  United 
States,  the  other  with  France.  Nevertheless,  the  population  of  the  Union  has 
more  than  doubled  since  the  beginning  of  the  present  century.  In  1808, 
Humboldt,  carefully  sifting  all  the  statistical  reports  furnished  to  the  admi- 
nistration of  New  Spain,  estimated  the  whole  population  at  5,837,000,  or 
5,767,000  for  the  part  of  the  territory  constituting  the  present  Mexican  republic. 
In  1888,  eighty  years  after  Humboldt's  estimate,  the  official  census  returned  a 
population  of  11,396,000,  which,  according  to  the  rate  of  annual  increase,  may  be 
certainly  raised  to  11,650,000  for  1891,  this  increase  having  been  about  2  per  cent, 
during  the  last  decade.  As  regards  the  distribution  of  the  population,  Mexico 
differs  from  most  other  regions,  the  uplands  being  far  more  densely  peopled  than 
the  lowlands. 

Immigration,  which  has  acquired  such  great  economic  importance  in  the  United 
States,  in  Canada  and  Argentina,  has  but  a  secondary  influence  on  the  growth  of 
the  Mexican  population  and  the  development  of  its  resources.  It  is  easy  to  under- 
stand why  so  few  emigrants  from  the  Old  "World  direct  their  steps  towards  Mexico. 
In  this  region  the  only  unoccupied  lands  are  the  arid  northern  plains,  till  recently 
exposed  to  the  raids  of  marauding  wild  tribes,  and  the  forest  regions  of  the  south, 
largely  under  water  and  much  dreaded  by  the  white  men  for  their  climate. 
Neither  in  Chihuahua  nor  in  Tabasco  can  the  European  working  classes  hope  to 



succeed  except  under  specially  favourable  circumstances.  Even  in  the  provinces 
where  the  soil  is  already  appropriated,  European  settlers,  expecting  a  relatively 
high  rate  of  Tvages,  could  never  attempt  to  compete  with  the  pure  or  half-caste 
Indians  who  are  satisfied  with  the  lowest  pay,  and  who,  often  crushed  under  the 
burden  of  their  debts,  have  to  work  almost  gratuitously  as  veritable  serfs.  The 
Mexican  territory,  already  divided  into  great  landed  estates,  lias  scarcelj-  any 
room  for  small  holders,  the  very  class  which  elsewhere  supplies  the  bulk  of  the 
colonists.  Hence,  with  rare  exceptions,  such  as  that  of  the  French  settlement  in 
Jicaltepec,  the  various  attempts,  made  either  by  the  government  or  by  private 
persons,  to  colonise  the  country  by  Italians  or  other  foreign  labourers  have  failed, 

Fig.  71. — Density  of  thb  Popttlatiox  ix  Mexico. 

Scale  1  :  30.000,000. 

Inhabitants  to  the  Square  Mile. 

10  to  20. 

O  Federal  district,  780  to  the  square  mile. 



20  to  40.  40  to  60 

and  upwards. 

o  Towns  of  over  50,000  inhabitants. 

.  620  ITiles. 

and  the  settlers  have,  after  a  time,  all  been  dispersed,  leaving  the  ground  to  the 
natives.  In  1888  the  twenty  "  colonies  "  in  the  republic  had  a  collective  popula- 
tion of  only  6,319,  and  of  these  1,-411  were  Mexicans.  Eecently  an  American 
company  has  been  formed  to  introduce  negro  settlers  into  the  southern  provinces, 
while  in  another  direction  certain  Chinese  speculators  propose  to  found  colonies  of 
their  fellow-countrymen.  But  if  agricultural  interests  fail  to  attract  many  immi- 
grants, foreigners  are  drawn  to  Mexico  in  yearly  increasing  numbers  by  the 
inducements  of  trade  and  the  industries.  The  construction  of  railways,  telegraphs, 
and  factories  of  aU  kinds  has  brought  thousands  of  mechanics,  engineers,  and  other 


artisans  from  North  America.  Italian  craftsmen  and  petty  dealers  arrive  in  con- 
stantly increasing  numbers,  while  the  community  of  speech  facilitates  the  settle- 
ment of  Spaniards  in  the  country  discovered  by  their  ancestors.  At  the  end  of 
1887  the  number  of  Iberians  entered  on  the  consular  registers  exceeded  9,500 ; 
next  to  them  the  French  and  Italian  settlers  are  the  most  numerous. 

As  in  other  countries  where  the  population  is  steadily  increasing,  agriculture 
and  the  industries  have  been  developed  at  a  still  more  rapid  rate.  Maize,  which  is 
the  chief  crop  throughout  the  temperate  zone,  and  even  on  the  plateaux,  is  still 
the  "  corn,"  in  a  pre-eminent  sense,  for  the  Hispano-Mexicans,  as  it  formerly  was 
for  the  Aztecs ;  with  it  is  made  the  tortilla,  or  hot  cake,  in  the  preparation  of 
which  over  a  million  of  women  are  constantly  employed.  The  annual  crop  is 
estimated  at  from  £22,000,000  to  £24,000,000,  whereas  wheat,  grown  by  the  side 
of  maize  in  the  cold  zone,  is  valued  at  scarcely  more  than  £4,000,000.  Barlej' 
represents  even  a  still  smaller  value,  while  rice  is  raised  only  on  the  lowlands, 
together  with  manioc  on  the  Pacific  and  Atlantic  slopes. 

The  frijoles,  or  haricot  beans,  form  part  of  the  diet  of  most  Mexicans,  and  are 
cultivated  with  peas,  broad  beans,  and  lentils  to  the  extent  of  over  £2,000,000 
annually.  Potatoes  are  scarcely  appreciated  in  their  original  home,  and  next  to 
maize  and  haricots  the  most  important  article  of  food  is  the  banana,  a  fruit  of 
Asiatic  origin.  In  the  warmer  parts  of  the  temperate  zone  a  clump  of  bananas 
with  four  or  five  stems  yields  from  620  to  720  fruits,  twelve  of  which  suffice  to 
sustain  a  man  for  one  day.  Thus  a  space  of  about  twenty  square  yards  growing 
this  plant  produces  enough  food  to  support  one  person  for  a  twelvemonth  ; 
whereas,  to  obtain  the  same  result  with  wheat,  a  space  of  at  least  160  square  yards 
would  be  needed.  Besides  the  banana,  Mexico  produces  an  immense  variety  of 
other  fruits,  being  suitable  for  the  cultivation  of  almost  every  plant  grown  both  in 
the  tropical  and  temperate  zones.  The  orange  is  here  found  associated  with  the 
cocoanut,  the  grape  with  the  chirimoya,  so  that  no  fruit-markets  can  surpass  those 
of  the  capital  and  the  other  cities  of  the  plateau  for  the  endless  variety  of  their 

Wine  is  not  the  national  drink,  although  the  vine  might  yield  excellent  results 
in  various  parts  of  the  country,  and  especially  in  Chihuahua  and  the  other  northern 
states  from  Zacatecas  to  the  American  frontier.  Its  cultivation,  already  valued  at 
over  1,000,000  gallons  in  1878,  is  even  yearly  increasing,  but  only  to  meet  the 
demands  of  the  wealthy  classes.  //  The  plant  which  yields  the  really  national  beve- 
rage is  the  maguey  {agace  americana),  of  which  over  thii-ty  varieties  are  known 
to  agriculturists.  It  is  grown  on  the  upper  slopes  of  the  temperate  zone  and  in  the 
cold  regions,  especially  on  the  light  sandy  soils  of  the  plateaux  between  6,000  and 
8,000  feet  above  the  sea.  Between  Tlaxcala,  Pachuca,  and  the  capital,  the  maguey 
fields  cover  many  thousand  square  miles  of  land.  The  pulqucro  obtains  the 
maguey  wine  by  removing  the  bloom  at  the  moment  of  its  greatest  energy.  Then 
the  sap,  which  would  have  served  to  nourish  the  huge  cluster  of  flowers,  fills  the 
deep  cavity  caused  by  the  excision,  and  this  cavity  is  emptied  from  two  to  nine 
times  a  day,  according  to  the  species  and  years,  during  the  whole  period  of  efflo- 



rescence.  Certain  plants  have  thus  yielded  dm-ing  the  season  as  much  as 
2,000  or  even  4,000  pounds  of  ag'iamkl,  or  sap,  which  may  be  drunk  at  once 
slightly  diluted  with  water.  But  it  is  usually  allowed  to  ferment,  and  thus 
changed  to  pulque,  which  may  also  be  consumed  on  the  spot,  or  forwarded  while 
quite  fresh  to  all  the  surroundiug  markets.  The  trunk  line  between  Orizaba  and 
3Iexico,  as  well  as  the  other  railways  on  the  plateau,  have  their  daily  pulque  trains, 
each  often  convej-ing  hundreds  of  tons  of  the  liquor  ia  all  directions.  The  term 
pulque  is  taken  from  the  Araucanian  language  of  Chili,  and  it  has  not  yet  been 

Fisr.  72.— PnauEKo. 



made  clear  why  it  has  been  substituted  by  the  Spaniards  for  the  proper  Aztec 
name,  ocf/i.  In  the  Xahua  traditions  its  discovery  was  attributed  to  a  prince,  who, 
as  a  reward,  received  the  king's  daughter  in  marriage.  At  first  strangers  find 
pulque  somewhat  disagreeable,  owing  to  its  smell  of  "  high  "  meat  or  old  cheese  ; 
but,  as  a  rule,  they  soon  learn  to  relish  this  drink,  the  stomachic  qualities  of  which 
are  much  praised  by  medical  men.  In  its  composition  it  resembles  mare's  milk, 
and  of  all  fermented  beverages  peculiar  to  the  Old  "World  it  approaches  nearest  to 
the  koumiss  of  the  Kirghiz  nomads.     Taken  in  large  quantities  it  intoxicates  like 


wiue,  and  the  drunkenness  caused  by  it  is  said  to  be  provocati\'e  of  wranglings  and 
bickerings.  Besides  pulque,  the  agave,  treated  in  different  ways,  j-ields  various 
other  drinks,  sweet  or  acid,  weak  or  strong,  such  as  the  mexcal  or  tequila,  the 
"  Mexican  brandy  "  of  English  writers. 

Maguey,  the  planta  de  las  maravillas  of  the  Mexicans,  yields  other  products 
besides  pulque  and  mexcal.  From  it  the  ancient  Aztecs  obtained  paper,  as  their 
descendants  do  soap,  a  species  of  gum,  and  especially  various  kinds  of  fibre  used 
according  to  their  quality  for  making  brushes,  cordage,  yarns,  and  textiles.  The 
smaller  varieties  of  maguey  known  by  the  names  of  uili  and  lechuguilla  {agave  hete- 
racantha)  contribute  largely  to  the  wealth  of  San  Luis  Potosi  and  Yalles,  while  the 
Zapotecs  of  Oaxaca  export  a  variety  of  articles  made  from  jnta  fibre  (bromelia 
silvestris).  Hcnequen  (jjgave  sisalensis  ov  Siml  honp)  has  done  still  more  for  the 
prosperity  of  Yucatan,  and,  thanks  to  this  cactus,  the  most  arid  regions  of  the 
peninsula  have  become  the  most  productive.  The  fibre  of  this  plant  serves  to  make 
cables,  cordage,  canvas ;  which,  though  not  so  stout  as  that  of  hemp,  is  none  the 
less  in  great  demand  throughout  the  industrial  centres  of  ^^orth  America. 

Two  of  the  Mexican  articles  of  export,  cochineal  and  indigo,  have  ceased  to 
possess  any  economic  importance,  the  former  having  been  ruined  by  the  com- 
petition of  the  cochineal  produced  in  the  Canarj'  Islands,  the  latter  by  the  indigo 
grown  in  Bengal,  and  now  also  partly  replaced  by  mineral  dyes.  Oaxaca, 
formerly  the  chief  centre  of  the  cochineal  industry,  and  still  exporting  about  8,000 
cwt.  in  1870,  produced  only  a  fiftieth  part  of  that  quantity  in  1877,  and  the  outlay 
had  everywhere  exceeded  the  returns.  The  nofial  (cactus  coccinifera),  on  which 
the  insect  fed,  has  accordingly  been  almost  universally  replaced  by  other  economic 
plants,  especially  the  coffee  shrub.  But  there  is  another  variety  of  cochineal 
which  yields  large  profits,  and  the  cultivation  of  which  has  already  made  some 
progress.  This  is  the  cije  or  axin  {llaceia  axin),  that  is,  the  "  fat  cochineal,"  very 
common  in  all  the  low-lying  and  temperate  parts  of  south  Mexico.  The  adult 
female  of  this  insect,  boiled  in  a  metal  vessel,  yields  about  27  per  cent,  of  its 
weight  in  axine,  a  fattj'  substance  about  the  consistency  of  butter,  and  the  most 
siccative  oily  product  known  to  commerce.  The  Yucatecs  formerly  used  it  for 
painting  their  dwellings,  and  the  North  Americans  have  also  begun  to  employ  it. 
Every  tree  peopled  by  a  colony  of  ajes  easily  yields  20  to  25  pounds  of  insects,  or 
about  6  pounds  of  grease. 

Mexico  also  takes  a  certain  limited  share  in  the  production  of  the  great  agri- 
cultural industries  of  the  world.  Cotton  is  grown  chiefly  in  the  northern  provinces 
bordering  on  the  United  States,  as  well  as  in  Guerrero  and  Yera  Cruz.  The 
sugar-cane,  inti'oduced  by  Feruau  Cortes,  is  cultivated  in  the  southern  states  of 
Morelos,  Puebla,  Campeachy,  and  Yucatan,  but  almost  exclusively  for  the  local 
consumption ;  cacao,  which  thrives  well  on  the  lower  slopes  of  the  Soconusco 
escarpments,  and  even  in  the  interior  of  Chiapas,  grows  in  a  too  thinly-peopled 
region  to  yield  large  annual  crops.  Coffee  is  of  far  more  economic  importance, 
especially  as  an  item  in  the  foreign  trade  of  the  country.  In  1887  Oaxaca  already 
possessed  3,000,000    shrubs ;     the    plantations    in  the  temperate   zone  of    Yera 



Cruz,  under  the  isothermal  lines  of  62^  to  68"  F.,  are  also  very  extensive,  though 
less  appreciated  than  the  coffee  grown  in  the  Uruapan  district,  Michoacau.  The 
tobacco  raised  on  the  banks  of  the  Papaloapan,  about  the  slopes  of  the  Tuxtla 
volcano,  and  on  the  spurs  of  the  Tabascan  hiUs,  is  scarcely  inferior  in  aroma  to 
that  of  Cuba  itself.  Since  the  insurrection  of  1868  on  that  island,  several  of  the 
banished  planters  have  introduced  this  industry  into  Mexico.  Vanilla  also 
succeeds  perfectly  in  the  hot  moist  lands  about  the  foot  of  the  eastei'n  Sierra 

Fig.  73.— ilArrr-ET  Piaxtatiox3,  Sas  FBiscisauiTo  Disteict,  keae  Mexico. 

Madre,  and  especially  in  the  environs  of  Papantla,  and  at  one  time  Mexico  was 
the  largest  exporter  of  this  fragrant  pod.  Xow,  however,  it  is  far  outstripped  by 
the  little  French  colony  of  Reunion. 

Stock-breeding  is  one  of  the  chief  industries  of  ^Mexico.  In  some  of  the 
haciendas  in  the  relatively  arid  northern  provinces,  as  well  as  in  the  moist 
savannahs  in  certain  parts  of  Vera  Cruz  and  Tabasco,  the  whole  population  consists 



of  vaqueros,  or  "  cowboys,"  each  lla^'iag  in  charge  hundreds  of  homed  cattle,  or  else 
from  eight  to  ten  atajos,  or  over  200  horses.  These  herdsmen,  emploj'ed  on  farms 
of  10,000,  20,000,  or  even  30,000  cattle,  are,  for  the  most  part,  Indians  or  half- 
castes  differing  greatly  from  other  Mexicans.  They  are  a  half-savage  race  of 
"  centaurs,"  who  capture  the  untamed  horse  or  overturn  the  strongest  bull  with  a 
throw  of  the  lasso,  and  whose  loves,  combats,  and  heroic  adventures  are  a  favourite 
subject  with  romance  writers.  But  generations  flow  on  and  industries  change. 
Formerly  the  ox  and  the  horse  roamed  the  prairie  Uke  the  aurochs  or  bison,  and  the 
cowboys  were  rather  hunters  than  keepers.      After  capturing  and  branding  the 

Fig.  74. — Chtef  AoEicniTUEAL  Peoduce  in  Mexico. 

Scale  1 :  30,000,000. 

r-Cane.  Coffee. 


Maguey,  Cactus.    Cochineal.  Vine. 

Cacan . 


Maize,  Cereals. 



-  620MUes. 

Forests.     Lands  little  cultivated. 

animal  with  its  owner's  initials,  they  again  released  it  till  it  had  to  be  recaptured 
for  the  shambles,  or  to  be  transferred  to  the  dealer.  Even  the  breed  of  ponies 
known  as  mustangs  or  hdinos  had  reverted  to  the  wild  state,  living  in  the  bush  far 
from  running  waters,  and  in  summer,  when  all  the  meres  were  dry,  slaking  their 
thirst  by  chewing  the  thornless  cactus.  But  at  present  many  farmers  have  intro- 
duced a  more  orderly  system  of  stock-breeding,  developing  new  breeds  by 
crossings  with  European,  American,  and  even  Asiatic  animals.  Thus  the  Indian 
zebu  and  the  carabao,  or  buffalo  of  the  Philippine  Islands,  have  been  introduced 
with  good  results  in  the  Mexican  cattle-farms.     The  Andalusian  horses  brought 


over  by  the  conquerors,  and  endowed  with  the  qualities  of  mettle,  strength,  and 
endurance,  have  also  been  crossed  with  other  breeds,  and  a  more  varied  choice  is 
thus  daily  offered  to  the  gallant  2tlexican  cavaliers,  who  are  so  proud  of  their 
horsemanship,  their  gay  trappings  and  richly-embi'oidered,  gold-fringed  costumes. 

Smaller  animals,  such  as  sheep  and  goats,  find  less  favour  with  the  stock- 
breeders, though  numerous  herds  of  swine  are  reared  in  the  forests  and  on  the 
plains,  especially  in  the  States  of  Mexico  and  Jalisco. 

When  the  Spaniards  arrived  in  the  country  with  their  traditional  theories  of 
property,  they  were  unable  to  understand  the  communal  system  prevalent  among 
the  natives.  Montezuma  himself  they  looked  upon  as  a  sort  of  ruler  like  their 
own  sovereign,  and  they  concluded  that  the  great  personages  of  the  empire  were 
feudatory  vassals  in  the  possession  of  vast  domains.  Hence  they  supposed  that 
they  had  only  to  substitute  themselves  for  those  Mexican  lords,  and  Fernan 
Cortes  set  the  example  by  seizing  vast  territories  such  as  the  Cuernavaca  district 
and  the  "  Oaxaca  valley,"  with  the  populations  inhabiting  them,  ifvearly  the 
whole  country  was  thus  distributed  amongst  the  conquerors,  and  the  natives, 
hitherto  unaware  that  the  land-could  be  appropriated,  became  themselves  so  much 
property,  like  the  soil  itself.  Still  a  small  plot  was  usually  left  for  their  use 
within  a  radius  of  a  few  hundred  yards  round  about  the  parish  church. 

Although  the  Spaniards  were  driven  out  by  the  war  of  independence,  the 
system  of  large  domains  introduced  by  them  remained  intact.  The  haciendas 
are  not  so  much  farms  as  territorial  divisions  as  extensive  as  a  rural  parish  or  even 
a  shire.  As  a  unit  of  square  measure  the  hacienda  has  a  superficial  area  of  35 
square  miles,  but  some  of  the  northern  haciendas  are  a  hundredfold  this  size, 
covering  a  surface  equal  to  one  of  the  large  departments  of  France.  The  whole 
land  between  Saltillo  and  Zacatecas,  a  distance  of  over  ISO  miles,  belongs  to  three 
owners.  These  owners  are  naturally  unable  to  cultivate  more  than  a  relatively 
small  part  of  such  estates,  in  the  heart  of  which  they  erect  a  fortified  dwelling, 
and  aroimd  this  stronghold,  serving  as  a  sort  of  citadel  during  the  civil  wars,  are 
grouped  the  houses  of  their  clients  and  retainers.  AU  highways  converge  on  the 
seignorial  mansion  ;  in  the  neighbourhood  are  held  the  marlcets,  and  all  travellers 
must  call  on  its  master  either  to  demand  hospitality  or  procure  fresh  mounts  and 
supplies.  The  vast  enclosures  in  the  vicinity  are  carefully  guarded  refuges,  where 
the  herds  are  driven  to  escape  the  raids  of  marauding  Indians  or  predatoiy  ani- 
mals. But  while  a  solitude  reigns  round  these  isolated  centres  of  life  and  industry, 
the  great  hacendados  left  the  country  open  to  incursions,  and  it  was  owing  to  this 
baneful  system  that  tiU  recently  the  Apaches  and  Comanches  were  able  to  extend 
their  daring  plundering  expeditions  far  into  the  interior  of  the  republic.  As  was 
remarked  nearly  a  century  ago  by  Humboldt — "  Mexico  is  a  land  of  inequality  ; 
nowhere  else  does  there  prevail  a  more  frightful  inequality  in  the  distribution  of 
wealth."  About  the  middle  of  the  century  the  official  surveys  returned  over  13,000 
ranchos,  or  small  holdings,  with  one  "  cabin  "  as  a  centre  of  habitation.  But  even 
were  they  the  indisputable  property  of  the  free  peasantry',  all  these  ranchos 
constituted  a  scarcely  perceptible  portion  of  the  national  wealth.     Since  that 

VOL.   xvn.  N 



Fig  75. — The  Worlii's  Yield  of  Silteb. 

time  vast  ^racts  have  been  surveyed  and  either  sold  or  rented.  But  one-third  of 
these  national  lands  has  been  gratuitously  given  to  speculating  land  companies, 
while  a  large  part  of  the  rest  has  been  assigned  to  other  financial  societies  or 
to  private  persons  in  lots  of  6,250  acres  ;  a  single  company  thus  owns  no  less 
than  15,000,000  acres,  while  very  little  has  been  assigned  to  the  peasantry. 

The  bulk  of  the  Mexican  population  is  dependent  on  the  great  mining  or  land 
companies.  Of  the  two  classes  the  miners  are  by  far  the  more  indejjendent,  owing 
to  the  neighbourhood  of  the  towns  that  have  sprung  up  round  about  the  works. 
The  peasants,  poorly  paid  and  kept  by  the  very  force  of  circumstances  in  the 
power  of  the  territorial  lords,  differ  in  name  only  from  real  serfs.      Destitute  of 

the  necessary  resources,  they  are 
unable  to  borrow  except  from  the 
proprietor  or  his  steward,  and 
these  loans,  consisting  of  pro- 
duce or  merchandise  sold  at  ex- 
orbitant rates,  can  be  paid  back 
only  by  manual  labour,  contracted 
for  j'ears  in  advance.  From  year 
to  year  they  see  the  prospect  of 
freedom  fading  away,  and  their 
crushing  liabilities  are  transmitted 
from  father  to  son.  Doubtless  all 
Mexicans  are  free  "by  Act  of 
Parliament ;  "  no  landowner  has 
any  longer  the  right  to  reduce  a 
debtor  to  servitude,  or  sell  him  to 
another  owner,  in  discharge  of 
all  or  part  of  any  real  or  fictitious 
claim.  The  son  is  no  longer  even 
liable  for  his  father's  debts,  nor 
the    future    of    minors    be 



Other  Countries. 


pledged  for  advances  beforehand. 
But  in  many  districts  remote  from  the  capital,  and  especially  in  the  south-eastern 
provinces,  the  law  is  a  dead  letter,  and  the  natives  are  even  said  to  have  been 
secretly  sold  to  Cuban  planters.  Practically  servitude  still  exists,  as  during  the 
early  days  of  the  conquest,  for  it  is  the  natural  consequence  of  the  landed  system. 
To  be  enslaved,  to  die  a  slave,  in  a  land  so  fair,  is  the  burden  of  every  song  round 
the  villages  of  Tabasco.  The  traveller,  passing  through  the  countrj',  cannot  fail  to 
be  impressed  by  the  plaintive  tone  of  these  songs,  which  float  continually  on  the 
air  in  the  neighbourhood  of  all  human  habitations. 

At  the  beginning  of  the  century  the  chief  wealth  of  Mexico,  apart  from  maize, 
maguey  and  the  other  alimentaiy  produce  of  primary  necessity,  consisted  in  the 
precious  metals ;  the  export  trade  was  in  fact  confined  almost  exclusively  to  the 
products  of  the  mines.     These  products  represented  an  enormous  value,  without 



even  taking  into  account  the  vast  sums  which  were  smuggled  out  of  the  country, 
and  of  which  no  returns  could  be  made.  There  are  numerous  auriferous  deposits 
ia  ilexico,  but  her  chief  treasures  are  the  silver  mines,  which  since  the  discovery 
of  America  have  yielded  fabulous  sums  to  the  trade  of  the  world.  According  to 
the  researches  of  Humboldt,  the  total  value  of  the  gold  and  silver  furnished  by  the 
metalliferous  veins  of  Xew  Spain  amounted  to  £425,000,000  from  the  conquest  to 
the  year  1S03.  This  figure  is  regarded  as  somewhat  too  high  by  Soetbeer,  Del  ilar, 
Neumann,  and  other  economists,  who,  however,  estimate  the  value  down  to  the 
year  1890  at  no  less  than  £800,000,000,  or  over  one-fifth  of  the  total  production 
of  the  world  dui'ing  the  four  centuries  since  the  first  voyage  of  Columbus. 

In  1850,  before  mining  oper- 
ations had  besun  in  California,  "^S-  76.— The  'W'oeld's  Tielb  of  the  Peecious  Metais. 
Arizona  and  Xew  ilexico,  regions 
formerly  belongiug  to  Xew  Spain, 
the  proportion  yielded  by  Mexico 
since  the  conquest  had  been  much 
higher,  or  about  one- third.  This 
country  has  contributed  more 
than  any  other  to  the  spread  of 
a  metal  currency  as  representative 
of  value ;  yet  till  recently  cacao 
beans,  squares  of  soap,  and  simi- 
lar objects  of  daily  iise  were  em- 
ployed in  Mexico  itself  for  petty 
dealings.  The  yield  of  the  Mexi- 
can mines,  so  far  from  falling  off 
during  the  present  century,  has 
considerably  increased,  despite 
wars  and  revolutions,  and  flooded 
mines.  The  improvement  in 
the  highways  of  communication, 
combined  with   the  introduction 

of  better  mining  processes,  has  more  than  compensated  for  the  advantages  enjoyed 
by  Mexico  at  a  time  when  the  precious  metals  possessed  a  greater  relative  value 
than  at  present.  An  oscillation  in  international  trade  favourable  to  the  develop- 
ment of  the  mining  industries  would  have  the  result  of  increasing  to  an  enormous 
extent  the  production  of  silver  in  itexico,  where  there  are  thousands  of  well- 
known  deposits  still  untouched  owing  to  their  relative  poverty,  or  to  the  lack  of 
communications.  Even  the  slag  heaped  up  about  the  workshops  stiU  contains 
from  25  to  30  per  cent,  of  metal,  or  altogether  £240,000,000.  In  the  year  1889 
alone,  as  many  as  2,077  declarations  were  registered  respecting  new  mines.  At 
present  the  yearly  production  exceeds  two  tons  of  gold,  valued  at  £-300,000,  and 
600  tons  of  silver,  valued  at  £5,500,000,  and  in  1889  the  total  yield  exceeded 



Other  Countries. 



So  extensive  is  the  area  of  the  Mexican  mineral  region  that  it  may  be  estimated 
at  four-fifths  of  the  whole  territory.  The  chief  metalliferous  zone  is  that  of  the 
western  Sierra  Madre  from  the  Arizona  frontier  to  the  isthmus  of  Tehuantepec ; 
but  the  other  Sierra  Madre  is  also  very  rich,  especially  in  the  States  of  San  Luis 
Potosi  and  Hidalgo.  Besides  gold  and  silver  the  Mexican  highlands  contain 
deposits  of  platinum,  copper,  lead,  iron,  manganese,  and  quicksilver,  the  last  of 

Fig.  "7. — Yield  of  Gold  and  Sllvee  ln  Vaeious  Countries  since  1492. 


Mexico:  £848.000,000. 

Bolivia  and  Peru  :  £820,000,000. 

Uaitea  states :  £400,000,01)0.  Best  of  America  :  £500,000,000. 


£  (580,000,000. 


Australia:  £300,000,000. 

Each  square  represents  £400,000. 

great  value  in  the  reduction  of  the  ores.  Coal  has  been  found  in  Sonora,  on  the 
banks  of  the  Rio  Grande,  in  the  Sierra  de  Tamaulipas  and  in  the  southern 
uplands.  Sulphur  is  obtained  in  the  craters  both  of  the  active  and  quiescent 
volcanoes  ;  near  Tuxpan  are  found  petroleum  springs  ;  by  scratching  the  surface 
the  sulphates  and  carbonates  of  soda,  saltpetre,  sea  salt  are  turned  up ;  lastly,  there 
occur  quarries  of  marble,  onyx,  jasper,  basalt,  obsidian,  while  certain  rocks  abound 
in  precious  stones. 



The  early  explorers  often  speak  of  the  beautiful  chalchihuites,  jadeites  or 
emeralds,  with  which  the  ilexican  nobles  adorned  themselres  and  decorated  their 
idols.  Amongst  the  resources  of  ilexico  must  also  be  included  yellow  amber, 
common  in  Oaxaca  and  the  neighbouring  states,  but  of  an  imknown  vegetable 
origin.  It  is  perfectly  transparent,  of  a  lovely  golden  hue,  and,  seen  iu  the  light, 
shines  with  a  fluorescent  glow.  In  certain  parts  of  the  interior  it  is  found  in  such 
quantities  that  the  natives  use  it  even  for  kindling  their  fires.  The  specimens  of 
this  substance  sent  to  Europe  come  from  the  coast,  where  it  occurs  here  and  there 
in  the  sands.  In  ilexico  there  are  reckoned  altogether  about  a  hundred  impor- 
tant mineral  districts,  and  in  1888  there  were  as  manv  as  575  mines  at  work,  to  a 

Kg.  78. — Chief  Meteeai.  Regioss  of  Mmco. 
Scale  1  :  30,000,000. 

Coal.  Salt. 

,  620  Maes. 

great  extent  owned  by  English  capitaKsts.     The  total  yield  of  all  metals,  earths, 
stones,  and  combustibles  is  valued  at  nearly  £10,000,000  yearly. 

To  mining,  which  was  alread}-  represented  in  all  its  branches,  such  as  smelting 
and  minting,  under  the  Spanish  rule,  have  now  been  added  some  of  the  large 
manufacturing  industries.  Cotton,  one  of  the  chief  crops  in  the  republic,  is 
entirely  emploved  in  the  ilexican  spinning  and  weaving  mills,  and  manufacturers, 
moreover,  import  large  quantities  of  the  American  staple.  Over  50,000  families  are 
supported  by  the  cotton  industry,  and  about  a  hundred  factories  produce  a  quantity 
estimated  at  30,000,000  pounds  a  year.  The  States  of  Puebla,  Jlexico,  Queretaro, 
Guanajuato,  Jalisco  and  Coahuila  are  the  chief  producers  of  cotton  textiles,  which 
take  the  form  of   manias,  sarapes,  rehozos,  and  other  articles  forming  part  of  the 


national  costume.  The  artisans  of  the  plateau  are  also  skilled  in  all  the  crafts 
connected  with  saddlery,  leather-dressing,  embroidery  and  other  trimmiags  so 
highly  appreciated  by  the  Mexican  cavaliers.  The  complete  outfit  of  a  regular 
dandy  is  worth  some  hundred  pounds,  including  the  trappings  of  his  mount.  All 
the  large  European  industries,  even  those  requiring  a  deep  knowledge  of  scientific 
processes,  have  now  been  introduced,  and  are  contributing  to  transform  the 
economic  conditions  of  the  countr}\  Moreover,  a  large  number  of  the  small  local 
industries  still  hold  their  ground.  Thus  the  Indians  of  Michoacan  continue  to 
produce  those  articles  of  featherwork  which  the  conquerors  admired  in  Monte- 
zuma's palaces,  and  the  Mixtec  women  still  weave,  with  the  cocoons  of  a  native 
species  of  bombj'x,  certain  silken  stuffs,  coarse  to  the  touch  but  very  stout,  and 
highly  prized  by  the  natives. 

In  most  of  the  provinces  the  ceramic  art  has  undergone  but  slight  change 
since  pre-Columbian  times.  The  Indians,  as  a  rule,  are  excellent  craftsmen,  as 
patient,  methodical,  and  regular  in  their  operations  as  the  machines  which  they 
employ.  Nor  do  they  lack  the  necessary  initiative  where  it  is  needed  by  the 
character  of  the  work.  Thej'  display  remarkable  talent  in  designing  and  modelling, 
they  copy  without  difficulty  all  objects  presented  to  them,  and  knead  wax  with 
rare  skill.  In  them  survives  the  genius  of  their  forefathers,  who  sculptured  the 
facades  of  the  temples,  carved  hieroglyphic  inscriptions,  designed  and  painted 
topographic  charts. 

This  general  increase  of  culture,  shown  by  a  more  scientific  and  a  more  active 
utilisation  of  the  local  resources,  has  at  the  same  time  reacted  favourably  on  the 
development  of  foreign  commercial  relations.  At  the  beginning  of  the  century 
under  the  Spanish  regime,  the  annual  movement  of  the  exchanges  carried  on 
exclusively  through  Vera  Cruz  was  about  £8,000,000.  At  present  it  has  in- 
creased more  than  threefold,  while  the  precious  metals,  which  till  recently  formed 
seven-eighths  of  the  exports,  have  now  fallen  to  two-thirds  or  even  one-half. 
Amongst  the  more  important  exports  are  dj'ewoods,  timber,  skins  and  hides, 
besides  such  colonial  produce  as  coffee,  vanilla,  tobacco,  caoutchouc,  sugar  and 
indio-o.  Mexico  also  forwards  large  quantities  of  fruits  to  the  United  States,  but 
no  manufactured  goods  are  exported.  These  industries  have  not  yet  acquired 
sufficient  development,  nor  are  they  sufficiently  specialised  to  find  an  opening  in 
foreign  markets,  ^f  imported  goods  the  chief  are,  in  their  order  of  importance, 
textiles,  machinery,  hardware,  paper,  chemicals,  glass  and  china  ware,  besides  flour 
and  other  alimentary  substances.  Thanks  to  the  proximity  of  the  United  States 
and  the  connecting  lines  of  railway,  the  first  place  in  the  foreign  trade  of  the 
country  is  taken  by  the  northern  republic  :  hence,  in  the  Mexican  ports  nearly  all 
shipping  documents  are  drawn  up  in  the  English  language.  Great  Britain  comes 
next  in  importance  to  the  United  States,  France  occupying  the  third  jjlace.  These 
three  countries,  which  collectively  possess  nine-tenths  of  all  the  exchanges,  are 
followed  by  Germany,  whose  relations  are  increasing,  especially  along  the  Pacific 
coast ;  whilst  Spain,  which  formerly  monopolised  the  whole  trade  of  the  colony, 
now  takes  only  the  fifth  place. 


Like  the  United  States,  Mexico  has  endeavoured  to  foster  her  industries  by  a 
system  of  tariffs  affecting  most  objects  imported  from  abroad.  As  a  rule  the  duties 
levied  at  the  seaports  or  on  the  land  frontiers  amoimt  to  38  per  cent,  of  the 
declared  value.  Hence  the  contraband  trade,  especially  in  American  cotton 
fabrics,  continues  to  flourish  all  along  the  line,  but  principally  in  the  "  free  zone," 
where  850  custom-house  officers,  distribut-ed  over  a  distance  of  1,680  miles,  are 
supposed  to  keep  effective  guard  over  all  the  exchanges.  Some  articles,  regarded 
as  useful  for  the  industrial  or  scientific  development  of  the  land,  enter  free  of  dutv. 
In  18S9  onlv  eightv  ports  vrere  open  to  foreign  trade,  exclusive  of  the  "  land 
ports  "  on  the  northern  and  southern  frontiers.  In  1889  the  Mexican  seaports 
were  regularly  visited  by  twelve  lines  of  steamers,  six  in  direct  relation  with 
Europe,  the  TTest  Indies,  and  the  Eastern  States  of  the  northern  republic,  two 
with  California,  and  four  engaged  on  the  coast  service.  The  sea-borne  traffic  by 
steam  represents  nearly  one-half  of  all  the  exchanges,  although  sailing-vessels, 
mostlv  flying  the  national  flag,  are  four  times  more  numerous  than  steamers  in.  the 
movement  of  the  seaports.  The  coasting-trade  is  reserved  exclusively  to  Mexican 

Mexico  has  lagged  a  quarter  of  a  century  behind  the  civilised  countries  of 
West  Europe  in  railway  building.  The  first  line,  connecting  Vera  Cruz  with  a 
suburb,  was  not  opened  tiU  1850.  Another  line,  constructed  in  1857  between  the 
capital  and  the  shrine  of  Guadalupe,  was  rather  an  object  of  curiosity  for  pleasure- 
seekers  or  devotees  than  a  means  of  communication  subservient  to  commercial 
interests.  But  after  the  collapse  of  the  attempt  made  to  restore  the  monarchy  and 
the  definite  recognition  of  Mexican  independence,  a  beginning  was  made  with  the 
various  projects  that  had  been  long  worked  out  for  the  development  of  a  regular 
railway  system  between  the  large  centres  of  population.  Thanks  to  the  aid  of 
British,  and  to  a  less  extent  of  United  States  capital,  the  work  was  undertaken  and 
pushed  on  so  rapidly,  soldiers  being  even  employed  as  na-\-vies,  that  in  the  course 
of  a  few  years  Mexico  already  compared  favourably  with  several  European  countries 
in  the  relative  extent  of  her  railway  system.  A  great  obstacle  to  the  progress  of 
the  new  means  of  communication  was  the  Kne  between  Vera  Cruz  and  the  capital, 
which  was  the  first  taken  in  hand,  and  which  happened  to  be  the  most  difficult  of  all. 
But  before  any  expansion  could  be  given  to  the  system  it  was  considered  essential 
to  open  the  great  trade  route,  placing  the  capital  of  the  republic  in  direct  relation 
with  the  ports  of  the  United  States,  Great  Britain,  France,  the  "West  Indies,  and 
South  America.  To  accomplish  this  result  enormous  works  had  to  be  executed, 
works  unexampled  even  in  Europe.  Mountains  had  to  be  scaled  to  double  the 
height  of  the  highest  Alpine  tunnels,  the  three  hot,  temperate,  and  cold  zones  had 
to  be  successively  traversed  in  a  vertical  direction,  in  order  to  reach  the  region  of 
snows  without  extending  the  route  beyond  all  reason  along  the  interminable  slopes 
of  the  lateral  valleys.  This  colossal  work  has  been  successfully  executed,  and  the 
Vera  Cruz  line  to  the  capital  now  offers  an  amazing  series  of  stupendous  bridges, 
A-iaducts,  tunnels,  sharp  curves,  steep  gradients,  and  other  engineering  triumphs. 

The  Metlac  viaduct  between  Cordoba  and  Orizaba  is  a   model   of  constructive 



skill,  in  whicli  lightness  and  strength  are  happily  combined.  But  the  section 
between  Maltrata  and  Boca  del  Monte,  giving  direct  access  to  the  edge  of  the 
Anahuac  plateau,  is  so  precipitous  that  it  never  fails  to  excite  the  apprehension  of 
travellers,  both  ascending  and  descending  this  tremendous  incline,  which  has  a  total 
rise  of  no  less  than  4,000  feet  in  a  distance  of  sixteen  miles  in  a  bee  line.  At  the 
hio-hest  pass  near  the  Malinche  volcano  the  line  stands  at  an  altitude  of  8,420  feet 
above  sea-level,  and  to  avoid  a  still  more  elevated  pass  over  the  snowy  range,  it  is 
deflected  northwards,  thus  obliquely  traversing  the  Mexican  valley  in  its  entire 

Fig.  79. — The  Boca  del  Monte  Accent. 
Scale  1  :  90,000. 

0    ,.: 






. .  ....,j 


West  Qp  breenwich 


;,300  Yards. 

length.     "With  good  reason  the  Mexicans  speak  of  this  great  engineering  work  as 
a  monument  of  human  genius. 

To  connect  the  network  with  that  of  the  United  States  was  a  far  easier  under- 
taking. The  Anahuac  plateau  has  a  general  incline  from  south  to  north  without 
any  abrupt  declivities,  so  that  throughout  most  of  the  section  between  the  capital 
and  the  Rio  Grande  del  Norte  heavy  engineering  operations  could  be  dispensed- 
with.  In  1884,  two  years  after  the  Americans  themselves  had  reached  this  river 
at  Laredo,  the  Mexicans  opened  their  line  to  Nuevo  Laredo  on  the  opposite  bank. 
The  same  year  they  completed  another  line  running  parallel  with  the  western 
Sierra  Madre  all  the  way  to  Paso  del  Norte.  Railway  communication  was 
thus  henceforth  continuous  between  Mexico  and  San  Francisco,  St.  Louis  and 
New  York :  by  the  latter  route  passengers  were  able,  in  1889,  to  travel  from 





Mexico  In  eleven  clays  to  the  Paris  Exhibition.  Another  line  crosses  tlie  Rio 
Grande  at  Piedras  Xegras  between  El  Paso  and  Laredo,  and  a  fourth  traversing 
Sonora  connects  the  American  frontier  with  the  port  of  Guaymas.  But  aU 
these  railways,  which  give  Xorth  Americans  and  their  wares  easy  access  to 
Central  Mexico,  and  which  converge  towards  the  heart  of  the  country,  constitute 
a  serious  political  danger.  They  lay  open  the  frontier  to  a  powerful  neighbour, 
who  has  already  occupied  about  half  of  the  former  territory,  and  who  has  more 
than  once  threatened  to  extend  the  range  of  her  conquests.  Hence  it  becomes  all 
the  more  urgent  to  increase  the  lines  which  descend  from  the  uplands  to  the  sea- 
board, and  which  would  afford  equal  commercial  advantages  to  all  countries  without 
an}-  special  privilege  to  the  United  States.     To  the  Vera  Cruz  line  on  the  Atlantic 

Fig.  80. — Mexicax  Ratlwat  Systfvs  rs  1890. 
Scale  1  ;  ao.OOO.COO. 

7/est     oP      Ureenw;ch 

'  620  Miles. 

side  has  already  been  attached  the  San  Luis  Potosi — Tampico  line ;  but  on  the 
Pacific  side,  where  trade  is  less  developed  than  on  the  slopes  facing  towards  Europe, 
the  system  is  not  yet  completed  which  wiU  ultimately  extend  to  the  seaports  of 
Altata,  ilazatlan,  San  Bias,  Manzanillo,  Sihuantanejo,  Acapulco,  Huatulco,  and 
Salina  Cruz.  On  this  Pacific  side  the  engineering  difficulties  are  as  great  as  on  the 
Atlantic  slope.  Thus  the  line  which  runs  west  of  the  capital  across  the  Ajusco 
crests  to  the  heights  of  Las  Cruces  near  Salazar,  attains  an  extreme  altitude  of 
lOjOOO  feet,  or  about  2,600  feet  above  the  city  of  Mexico ;  this  is  the  highest 
point  yet  reached  by  the  Mexican  system. 

In  1774,  the  engineer  Cramer,  commissioned  to  survey  the  isthmus,  reported 
that  a  navigable  canal  might  be  cut  from  ocean  to  ocean  without  much  difficulty  and 
expense,  and  in  his  report  he  traced  the  course  of  such  a  canal.     But  uo  attempt 


was  ever  made  to  realise  the  pi'oject.  In  1811  the  Spanish  Cortes  also  decreed 
the  opening  of  this  line,  but  their  decision  could,  be  regarded  as  little  more  than  an 
abstract  resolution  inspired  through  the  fear  of  losing  the  empire  of  the  West.  Immc 
diatel}-  after  the  constitution  of  IVew  Spain  as  an  independent  state,  the  geographical 
study  of  the  land  was  resumed  ;  but  no  definite  canalising  projects  were  formed 
till  1842,  when  Jose  de  Garay  offered  to  take  such  a  work  in  hand.  But  he  failed 
to  raise  the  necessary  capital,  and  a  like  fate  befell  the  American  company  which 
had  obtained  the  concession,  in  1867,  after  the  fall  of  Maximilian.  All  these  now- 
abandoned  projects  of  an  interoceanic  canal  have  been  followed  by  that  of  a  ship 
railway  on  the  same  plan  as  that  of  the  Chignecto  isthmus  in  Nova  Scotia,  but  of 
far  greater  proportions.  The  importance  of  such  a  route,  especially  for  the  navi- 
gation of  the  United  States,  is  obvious  enough.  For  the  trade  of  the  whole  world 
the  best  line  across  Central  America  would,  doubtless,  be  that  of  Panama,  which 
lies  on  the  direct  highwaj'  from  England  to  Peru,  ChiH,  Australasia,  and  Indo- 
nesia. But  the  Americans  are  naturally  most  interested  in  the  route  lying  nearest 
to  their  own  territory.  Most  of  their  traffic  is  carried  on  between  New  York  and 
San  Francisco,  on  which  highway  the  Tehuantepec  route  is  860  and  1,630  miles 
shorter  than  those  of  Nicaragua  and.  Panama  respectively.  Planned  by  Eads,  the 
same  American  engineer  who  opened  the  South  Pass  in  the  Mississippi  delta, 
the  Tehuantepec  ship  railway  would  be  regarded  mainly  as  an  American  work, 
and  the  future  tariff  was  even  arranged  in  such  a  way  as  to  favour  the  Anaerican 
quite  as  much  as  the  Mexican  seaports.  Mexico  was,  none  the  less,  ready  to  grant 
great  privileges  to  the  promoters,  such  as  exemption  from  taxes  for  ninety-nine 
years,  and  the  grant  of  nearly  1,250,000  acres  of  land.  The  expenditure  was  esti- 
mated at  £15,000,000  for  a  line  150  miles  long,  the  heaviest  engineering  work 
being  a  cutting  850  yards  long  and  over  100  deep  at  the  highest  point  of  the 
waterparting.  This  would  reduce  the  steepest  gradient  to  less  than  two  in  100 
yards  ;  but  the  undertaking  was  suspended  by  the  death  of  the  engineer. 

The  Mexican  telegraph  system  has  been  rapidly  developed  throughout  every 
province  of  the  republic,  having  increased  threefold  during  the  last  decade.  It 
is  now  also  completed  by  the  submarine  cables  connecting  Galveston  with  the 
Mexican  seaboard,  and  Vera  Cruz  with  the  northern  and  southern  ports.  Another 
submarine  line  now  also  joins  Salina  Cruz,  the  port  of  Tehuantepec,  with  the 
Pacific  seaports  of  the  Central  American  republics.  Most  of  the  lines  belong  to 
the  federal  government,  though  several  are  also  owned  by  the  different  states,  railway 
companies  and  private  corporations.  The  telegraph  and  postal  services  increased 
more  than  fourfold  in  the  eight  years  ending  in  1888  ;  yet  the  letters  forwarded 
are  still  at  the  low  rate  of  three  per  head  of  the  population,  showing  that,  com- 
pared with  the  countries  of  West  Europe,  instruction  has  hitherto  been  in  a  back- 
ward state. 

But  education  also  is  at  last  making  rapid  progress.  Most  of  the  states  have 
adopted  the  principle  of  compulsion  and  gratuitous  public  instruction  for  all  chil- 
dren ;  but  the  oflScial  returns  make  it  evident  that  pubHc  opinion  has  not  yet 
completely  sanctioned  such  measures.     At  the  same  time  it  is  impossible  to  ascer- 


tain  tte  precise  number  of  ctildren  attending  schools,  owing  to  the  carelessness  of 
provincial  governors  in  forwarding  the  yearly  reports  to  the  federal  administration. 
It  is  certain,  however,  that  from  decade  to  decade  great  progress  is  being  made, 
and  the  attendance  at  schools  already  represents  a  twentieth  of  the  whole  popu- 
lation, the  proportion  beiug  highest  in  the  States  of  Queretaro,  Guanajuato, 
and  Chiapas.  But  much  still  remains  to  be  done  in  the  remote  districts,  and 
especially  for  the  Indian  populations.  Ignorance  and  superstition  are  still  so 
prevalent  amongst  the  natives  that  so  recently  as  1874,  two  "  sorcerers,"  a  mother 
and  her  son,  were  burnt  alive  ia  a  village  in  the  State  of  Vera  Cruz  for  having 
caused  the  death  of  a  young  man  by  incantations.  On  the  other  hand  brigandage 
has  rapidly  disappeared  with  the  development  of  the  railway  and  telegraph  ser- 
vices, and  most  of  the  highwaymen  have  taken  to  more  legitimate  pursuits.  The 
time  has  passed  when  travellers  were  warned  by  placards  posted  at  the  cross- 
roads of  the  capital  to  provide  themselves  with  money  under  the  threat  of  being 
beaten,  or  losing  nose  or  ears. 

A  taste  for  reading  is  not  yet  very  widespread  ;  hence  libraries  are  few  and 
poorly  equipped,  although  scientific  literature  has  already  acquired  a  certain 
value.  It  comprises  some  standard  works  on  a  level  with  the  admirable  carto- 
graphic undertaking,  superior  to  similar  works  in  the  United  States,  which  when 
finished  will  contain  the  whole  topography  of  Mexico  in  thousands  of  well-executed 
sheets.  Popular  literature  consists  mainly  in  journals,  of  which  at  the  end  of  1888 
as  many  as  120  were  issued  in  the  federal  district  alone,  and  385  in  the  whole 
state.  In  1852,  all  publications  taken  together  comprised  only  60  journals, 
ilexico  is  one  of  the  Hispano-American  countries  which  claim  to  speak  the  best 


Constituted  on  the  model  of  the  Anglo-Saxon  federation,  the  republic  of 
ifexico  consists  of  a  certain  number  of  independent  or  sovereign  federal  states 
united  together  according  to  the  compact  of  1 857.  Each  state  is,  so  to  say,  a 
miniature  of  the  confederation,  with  its  chambers  and  governor,  its  laws  and  local 
finance.  But  its  deliberations  and  jurisdiction  are  confined  within  certain  limits 
laid  down  by  the  general  constitution  of  the  republic.  It  can  neither  declare  war 
nor  conclude  peace,  and  all  its  relations  with  foreign  powers  have  to  be  conducted 
by  the  central  government. 

But  independently  of  all  constitutional  formidas,  there  can  be  no  dcubt  that 
at  present  the  populations  of  the  various  states,  formerly  without  cohesion  or  any 
sense  of  national  unity,  now  form  a  somewhat  compact  political  body.  In  1846, 
during  the  war  with  the  United  States,  no  popular  movement  was  made  against 
the  invaders,  and  the  two  States  of  Tera  Cruz  and  Zacatecas  even  refused,  in 
virtue  of  their  autonomous  rights,  to  take  any  part  in  the  war  against  the  Xorth 
American  republic.  But  the  national  sentiment  assumed  a  far  more  active  cha- 
racter at  the  time  of  the  French  invasion  and  the  assumption  of  the  imperial  title 
by  ilaximilian.     T^Tien   Mexico  at  last  issued   triumphant  fi'om  this  formidable 



struggle,  the  exultation  of  victory  and  the  consciousness  of  nascent  strength  tended 
to  create  a  Mexican  nation  in  the  true  sense  of  the  term.  From  that  time  dates 
the  real  history  of  modern  Mexico. 

The  annexation  of  Mexico  to  its  powerful  northern  neighbour,  an  event  confi- 
dently foretold  by  so  many  politicians  as  inevitable,  becomes  daily  more  improbable  as 
the  country  continues  to  increase  in  wealth  and  population.  The  centres  of  gravity 
of  the  Mexican  and  Anglo-Saxon  republics  will  always  be  separated  by  a  distance 
of  at  least  1,500  or  1,600  miles,  and  the  intervening  space  largely  consists  of  arid 
regions,  where  the  population  must  always  remain  scattered.  The  zone  of  dis- 
affected states,  which  American  adventurers  had  endeavoured  to  constitute  in  the 
north  between  Sonora  and  Tamaulipas,  with  the  view  of  dividing  the  republic  and 

Fig.  81.— Political  Division's  op  Mexico. 

Scale  1  :  30,000,000. 

,  620  Miles. 

annexing  it  piecemeal,  have  resumed  their  place  as  integral  members  of  the 
political  organism.  Thus  Mexico  and  the  United  States  seem  destined  to  remain 
distiact  ethnological  domains. 

Every  Mexican  citizen  is  regarded  as  a  freeman,  with  the  right  of  choosing 
his  own  domicile,  of  associating  with  whomsoever  he  Hsteth,  of  comiug  and  going 
whithersoever  he  pleaseth,  of  beariag  arms  and  freely  expressing  his  thoughts 
either  verbally  or  through  the  press.  No  titles  of  nobility  or  hereditary  preroga- 
tives are  recognised,  and  all  citizens  are  considered,  in  virtue  of  the  constitution, 
as  equal  before  the  law.  All  are  electors  on  the  single  condition  of  themselves 
signing  their  voting-papers.  Even  foreigners  become  citizens  on  acquiring  pro- 
perty in  the  country,  or  when  children  are  born  to  them,  unless  within  a  period 
of  eight  months  they  express  a  formal  desire  to  keep  their  first  nationality. 


The  number  of  parliamentary  representatives  increases  with  the  population ; 
for  this  purpose  each  state  is  divided  into  as  many  electoral  circles  as  there  are 
40,000  inhabitants,  and  each  circle  elects  a  representative  from  candidates  over 
twenty-five  years  old  for  a  period  of  two  years.  The  senators,  who  must  be  at 
least  thirty,  are  elected  for  four  years,  two  for  each  state,  so  that  they  number 
fifty-sis  for  the  twenty-seven  states  and  two  territories ;  every  two  years  half  of 
the  senate  is  re-elected.  The  Congress,  that  is  to  say,  the  two  chambers  combined, 
holds  two  regular  annual  sessions,  comprising  a  total  of  at  least  forty-five  sittings; 
both  deputies  and  senators  receive  a  yearly  allowance  for  their  services.  A 
permanent  delegation  of  the  Congress  sits  during  the  recesses.  The  capital, 
where  Cong-ress  meets,  lies  not  in  anv  of  the  states,  but  in  a  neutral  territorv,  the 
so-called  "federal  district,"  formed  by  a  circuit  of  "two  leagues,"  or  six  miles' 
radius  round  the  central  spot.  The  president  of  the  Mexican  United  States, 
chosen  in  the  second  degree  by  pepular  vot«,  was,  till  recently,  appointed  for  a 
term  of  four  years,  but  in  virtue  of  an  amendment  in  the  constitution  passed  in 
1887,  he  may  be  re-elected  for  a  second  term,  and  the  president  in  whose  favour 
this  law  was  enacted  was  in  fact  so  re-elected.  In  1890,  by  another  law,  he  was 
made  president  for  life. 

The  judiciary  power  is  exercised  by  district  and  circuit  courts  and  a  supreme 
tribunal  composed  of  judges  elected  for  a  period  of  six  years.  The  ciNil  and 
criminal  code  is  the  same  for  all  the  states  except  those  of  Tera  Cruz  and 
Tlaxcala.  Imprisonment  for  debt  is  abolished,  and  the  republic  binds  itself  to 
reject  all  extradition  treaties  for  political  offences.  The  decimal  system  has  been 
legalised  for  weights,  measures,  and  currency. 

Under  the  colonial  regime  the  clergy  exercised  great  power  in  the  government 
of  the  country.  Its  enormous  revenues,  combined  with  the  spiritual  authority 
enabling  it  to  open  or  close  the  gates  of  heaven,  ensured  it  the  unquestioned 
control  of  the  Indian  populations.  Some  of  the  prelates  had  incomes  of  £40,000, 
and,  according  to  Lucas  Alaman,  the  ecclesiastical  estate  represented  half  of  the 
whole  property  of  Mexico.  Although  the  wealth  and  power  of  these  high 
dignitaries  were  diminished  by  the  war  of  independence,  the  clergy  still  retained 
great  influence,  for  the  Creole  priests,  such  as  Hidalgo  and  Morelos,  who  sided 
with  the  people  or  even  stirred  them  to  revolt  against  Spain,  caused  those  church- 
men to  be  forgotten  who,  on  the  contrary,  hurled  anathemas  against  the  rebels. 
About  the  middle  of  the  present  century  Lerdo  de  Tejada  still  estimated  at  one- 
third  of  the  national  territory  the  lands  owned  by  the  clergy.  With  the  revenues 
derived  from  hypothecated  trusts  and  from  tithes  still  illegally  collected,  this 
vast  fortune  yielded  an  annual  income  of  about  £4,000,000.  But  in  1855  the 
clergy  numbered  altogether  not  more  than  4,615,  some  "poor  curates,"  others 
prelates  and  other  dignitaries  "  rolling  in  wealth."  A  first  blow  had  been  given 
to  the  power  of  the  Church  by  the  Spaniards  themselves  in  1767,  when  all  the 
Jesuits  residing  in  Mexico  were  imprisoned,  deprived  of  their  property  and  then 
banished.  The  revolution  was  completed  nearly  a  century  afterwards,  in  18-57, 
by  the  mortmain  law  ordering  the  immediate  sale  of  ecclesiastical  property.     But 


the  struggle  for  ascendency  was  none  the  less  continued,  and  the  higher  clergy 
did  not  consider  themselves  vanquished  till  after  the  fall  of  Maximilian,  the 
withdrawal  of  the  French  troops,  and  the  definite  triumph  of  the  republican 
party.  They  were  then  deprived  of  their  effects,  and  the  priests  lost  the  right 
of  superintending  schools  and  celebrating  their  rites  in  public.  The  establish- 
ment of  religious  corporations  or  communities  was  forbidden,  and  since  1873  the 
Church  has  been  completely  sejiarated  from  the  State,  which  has  proclaimed  itself 
neutral  as  regards  the  various  cults.  Over  a  hundred  Protestant  churches, 
belonging  to  twelve  different  sects  and  nearly  all  founded  by  American  mission- 
aries, have  been  built  in  the  capital  and  in  other  parts  of  the  country.  In  1866 
the  capital  also  contained  as  many  as  37  Protestant  schools,  attended  by  1,310 
pupils.  On  the  other  hand,  in  several  remote  districts  where  the  population  is 
purely  Indian,  the  old  Catholic  ceremonies  are  being  rapidly  forgotten.  Many 
parishes  remain  without  priests,  and  the  natives  cease  to  practise  any  outward 
form  of  worship.  In  nearly  all  the  towns,  except  in  Michoacan,  churches  have 
been  transformed  to  workshops,  barracks,  warehouses,  even  circuses  for  bull- 
fights, for  this  pastime,  after  having  been  interdicted,  is  again  permitted. 

Although  small,  the  Mexican  army  is  relatively  larger  than  that  of  the 
United  States.  In  1889  it  comprised  altogether  over  27,000  men  with  the 
gendarmes  and  rangers ;  with  the  reserves  it  forms  a  force  of  160,000  of  all 
arms.  Mexico  also  possesses  a  flotilla  of  two  corvettes  and  three  gunboats,  and 
naval  schools  have  been  founded  at  Mazatlan  and  Campeachy.  The  Mexican 
forces  are  doubtless  insignificant  compared  with  the  vast  armaments  of  the  great 
military  powers ;  nevertheless  they  suffice  to  weigh  heavily  on  the  federal  budget, 
the  expenditure  under  this  head  amounting  to  from  £2,500,000  to  £3,000,000, 
or  over  one-third  of  the  national  outlay. 

The  finances  of  the  republic  were  long  in  a  state  of  the  greatest  confusion, 
especially  at  a  time  when  foreign  traders  were  able  to  emjiloy  diplomatic  influences 
for  the  purpose  of  raising  fictitious  claims,  and  compelling  the  Mexican  Govern- 
ment to  pledge  the  customs  as  security  for  their  demands.  Since  that  epoch,  the 
revenues  of  the  republic  have  rapidly  increased.  Over  half  of  the  receipts 
are  derived  from  the  duties  levied  at  the  seaports  almost  exclusively  on  imported 
goods.  Stamps  represent  a  fourth,  and  direct  contributions  not  more  than  a 
twentieth  of  the  annual  budget.  Another  resource  is  the  profit  on  coining,  which 
has  acquired  so  much  importance  in  Mexico,  where  the  various  mints  have  issued 
altogether  £720,000,000  in  gold  and  silver  since  their  foundation. 

To  the  federal  budget  must  be  added  those  of  the  different  states,  which 
average  about  £2,000,000  j-early,  and  lastly,  those  of  the  municipalities,  which 
have  an  estimated  collective  value  of  from  £200,000  to  £250,000. 

The  national  debt,  although  less  in  proportion  than  about  the  middle  of  the 
century,  was  estimated  in  1890  at  £20,500,000. 

In  the  Appendix  will  bo  found  a  table  of  the  several  states  and  territories,  with 
their  areas  and  approximate  populations. 



HIS  colonial  territory,  one  of  tlie  least  important  in  the  vast 
British  Empire,  is,  geograpliicallY  speaking,  nothing  more  than  a 
|S=jj^.  j  section  of  Yucatan,  conventionally  severed  from  the  peninsula. 
On  the  north,  however,  the  frontier  towards  Mexico  is  distinctly 
marked  by  the  southern  shores  of  Chetumal  Bay,  and  by  the 
course  of  the  Eio  Hondo.  Southwards  the  Eio  Sarstun  (Sarstoon)  has  been 
chosen  as  the  political  botmdary  as  far  as  the  so-called  Gracias-a-Dios  rapids. 
From  this  point  an  arbitrary  parting-Kne  runs  nearly  north  to  Garbutt's  Falls  on 
the  Eio  Viejo  (ilopan,  or  Belize),  and  is  continued  thence  to  the  Eio  Hondo. 
This  line,  laid  down  by  the  treaty  of  1860,  but  not  actually  surveyed,  is  assumed 
very  nearly  to  coincide  with  89°  30'  west  longitude. 

Physically  an  integral  part  of  Yucatan,  this  region  was  also  politically  regarded 
as  within  the  Spanish  main  ever  since  the  year  1506  or  1508,  when  its  shores 
were  visited  by  Yauez  Pinzon  and  Juan  Dias  de  Solis.  But  towards  the  close  of 
the  seventeenth  century,  some  English  corsairs  seized  the  island  of  Carmen,  which 
half  closes  the  entrance  to  the  Terniiuos  lagoon  on  the  opposite  side  of  Yucatan. 
In  1717  they  were  driven  from  their  stronghold  by  a  Spanish  flotilla,  and  then 
took  refuge  on  the  east  coast  of  the  peninsula ;  here  they  founded  a  settlement, 
which,  from  the  name  of  their  leader,  was  known  as  Wallace,  a  term  afterwards 
corrupted  by  the  Spaniards  to  Belice  or  Belize.  In  this  outlying  station,  far 
removed  from  the  centre  of  Spanish  authority,  they  easily  held  their  ground,  and, 
with  the  aid  of  the  Indians  and  half-caste  negroes,  even  overran  the  surrounding 
districts.  But  in  1730  an  expedition  was  sent  against  them,  which  seized  their 
boats,  and  fired  their  cabins  and  the  piles  of  logwood  collected  on  the  beach. 
After  the  departure  of  the  Spaniards,  the  English  settlers  returned  from  the 
forests  where  they  had  taken  refuge,  and  reoccupied  the  place. 

Again  expelled  by  a  second  expedition,  they  again  returned,  erected  fortified 
posts  at  the  entrances  of  all  the  rivers,  and  remained  henceforth  free  from  all 
attack.  By  the  treaty  of  Paris  of  1765  they  acquired  the  right  to  hold  peaceful 
possession  of  the  territory  already  occupied,  but  only  for  the  purpose  of  working 
the  surrounding  forests,  and  trading  in  the  timber  and  other  natural  produce. 
Their  forts  and  palisades  had  to  be  razed,  all  permanent  agricultural  settlements, 



Fig.  82.— Bbitish  Honbubab. 
Scale  1  :  2,800,000. 

municipalities,  and  organised  forces  were  interdicted,  and  the  country  remained 
a  political  possession  of  Spain.  These  conditions  were  maintained  by  the  treaty 
of  Yersailles  of  1783  ;  which,  however,  enlarged  the  area  of  the  forest  domain 
conceded  to  the   descendants  of   the  English  intruders.     But   England   was    the 

stronger  power,  and  the  war 
that  broke  out  towards  the 
close  of  the  last  century, 
followed  by  the  naval  vic- 
tory of  1798,  enabled  Great 
Britain  to  claim,  by  right 
of  conquest,  the  territory 
which  she  had  hitherto  oc- 
cupied by  erfforced  conces- 
sion. The  sovereign  dominion 
which  the  English  now  set 
up  was  never  seriously  con- 
tested, and  the  protests  of 
the  Spaniards  were  regarded 
as  mere  formalities.  The 
settlers  even  continued  from 
year  to  year  to  encroach  on 
the  territories  lying  beyond 
the  stipulated  frontiers.  Thus 
the  southern  frontier,  origi- 
nally fixed  at  the  Rio  Sibun, 
was  gradually  shifted  about 
110  miles  farther  south  to 
the  Amatique  inlet,  at  the 
head  of  the  Gulf  of  Hon- 

British  Honduras,  whose 
superficial  area  is  approxi- 
mately estimated  at  7,560 
square  miles,  is  but  thinlj' 
peopled,  the   whole  popula- 

89'  West  oF  GreenwTcli 



Oto  60 

60  to  500 

600  F.tthoms 
and  upwai-ds. 

-60  Miles. 

tion  numbering,  in  1887, 
somewhat  less  than  28,000. 
Tn  the  sixteen  years  since 
1871,  the  total  increase  had 
only  been  3,000,  and  at  present  there  cannot  be  more  than  about  three  per- 
sons to  the  square  mile.  Belize  is  thus  by  far  the  least  densely-peopled  region 
in  Central  America,  a  fact  explained  by  the  unfavourable  climatic  conditions, 
which  make  most  of  it  unsuitable  for  Anglo-Saxon  colonisation.  There  are 
scarcely  more  than  400  English  settlers  altogether,  a  number  greatly  exceeded  by 


the  Spanish  half-castes  and  the  descendants  of  political  refugees  from  the  Central 
American  republics.  In  the  towns  the  bulk  of  the  people  are  Mulattos  of  all 
shades,  while  the  hamlets  scattered  over  the  rural  districts  are  occupied  chiefly 
by  the  so-called  "  Caribs,"  that  is,  Indians  who  have,  no  doubt,  some  Curib  blood 
in  their  veins,  derived  from  the  Caribs  removed  in  1797  by  the  English  from 
St.  Vincent  to  the  islands  on  the  Honduras  coast. 

Some  30  miles  above  the  town  of  Belize  the  river  is  fringed  by  a  large 
number  of  artificial  mounds,  which  have  not  yet  been  explored.  They  ajjpear  to 
have  been  either  burial-places,  or  raised  camping-grounds,  to  serve  as  refuges  for 
the  people  during  the  floods.  Anyhow,  they  show  that  this  region  was  not  always 
a  solitude. 

Although  within  an  eighteen-days'  voyage  of  England,  the  interior  of  Belize 
is  less  known  than  Central  Africa.  Yet  few  regions  abound  more  in  natural 
resources  of  all  kinds.  "  One  of  the  most  remarkable  peculiarities  of  the  climate 
and  soil  is  that  almost  all  the  tropical  products  of  commercial  value  may  be  grown 
in  the  same  zone.  I  have  frequently  seen  maize,  rice,  bananas,  pineapples, 
oranges,  coffee,  cacao,  cotton,  cassava,  rubber,  and  cocoanuts  all  flourishing  on  the 
same  piece  of  land.  Cacao  of  good  quality  is  found  growing  wild  in  the  forests  ; 
there  is  an  abundance  of  fibre-producing  plants,  particularly  henequen  and  silk- 
grass,  varieties  of  the  aloe,  and  there  is  a  large  extent  of  land  suitiible  for  cattle 
and  mule  breeding."*  In  the  southern  part  of  the  tsrritory,  the  area  of  drainage 
within  the  British  frontier  is  very  narrow  ;  the  Hlls  in  this  district  are,  for  the 
most  part,  merely  the  advanced  spurs  of  the  Sierra  de  Chama,  which  traverses  the 
Guatemalan  province  of  Alta  Vera  Paz.  In  these  unexplored  regions  the 
highest  summits  visible  from  the  sea  exceed  1,000  feet,  while  the  little  isolated 
group  of  limestone  rocks  known  as  the  "  Seven  Hills,"  terminating  in  a  head- 
land on  Amatique  Bay,  falls  to  about  half  that  elevation.  Northwards,  pine- 
clad  cliffs  skirt  the  shore  at  a  certain  distance  inland,  forming,  so  to  say,  a  second 
beach  rising  above  the  low-lying  coast  zone. 

The  Cockscomb  Mountains. 

In  British  Honduras  the  highest  mountains  are  the  C(  ckscomb  range, 
which  are  also  connected  by  a  lateral  ridge  with  the  Guatemalan  system.  The 
loftiest  peaks  lie  within  British  territory,  where  the  main  nrest  is  disposed  in  the 
direction  from  west  to  east,  while  from  the  northern  slopes  torrents  descend  to  the 
River  Belize.  These  uplands,  which  are  richly  wooded  on  their  lower  flanks,  and 
dotted  with  a  few  pine-trees  on  their  higher  escarpments,  consist  partly  of  granite, 
as  shown  by  the  rolled  blocks  in  the  beds  of  the  torrents.  Explorers  have 
sijecially  noticed  hard  limestones  veined  with  quartz  and  vertically  disposed  schists, 
which  are  very  diSttcult  to  scale.  These  are  probably  the  pedernaks  which  Cortes 
and  his  followers  took  twelve  days  to  cross  during  his  wonderful  expedition  to 
Honduiasin  1524.      Victoria  Peak,  the  culminating  point,  ascended  for  the   first 

*  J.  BcUaraj-,  Proc.  Ji.  Geo.  Soc,  September,  18S9. 
\"C)I,.    X\'1I.  O 


time  during  the  Goldsworthy  expedition  of  1888,  has  an  altitude  of  3,700  feet. 
Other  summits,  one  of  which  was  named,  from  the  geologist  of  the  expedition, 
Bellamy  Peak  (2,700  feet),  follow  in  the  direction  from  west  to  east,  where  the 
range  terminates  abruptly  in  a  few  hills  or  low  offshoots.  Victoria  Peak,  which 
presents  the  aspect  of  a  sharp  and  apparently  inaccessible  needle,  was,  neverthe- 
less, scaled  by  several  members  of  the  expedition,  aiding  themselves  with  ropes 
and  a  few  gnarled  and  stunted  fig-trees. 

"  The  top  of  Mount  Victoria  is  a  thorough  j^cak,  with  but  little  room  for 
moving  about,  and  an  extensive  view  is  obtained  on  all  sides.  For  some  distance 
the  prospect  is  nothing  but  alternate  ridge  and  valley,  densely  wooded.  There 
were  no  higher  points  north  of  us,  but  to  the  south  Montagua  and  Omoa,  in 
Spanish  Honduras,  were  seen  towering  above  the  rest.  No  open  country  was 
seen,  nor  any  of  the  traditional  lakes.''  *  In  the  Cockscomb  and  conterminous 
Guatemalan  uplands  geologists  have  discovered  iron  and  lead  ores  as  well  as  traces 
of  gold  and  silver.  But  whenever  these  highlands  become  connected  with  the 
neighbouring  se  iports,  they  will  have  the  still  greater  advantages  of  offering  to 
agricultural  settlers  miny  fertile  valleys,  and  a  far  more  healthy  climate  than 
that  of  the  surrounding  lowlands.  Here  sooner  or  later  wiH  be  established  the 
health-resort  of  British  Honduras. 


The  low- lying  plains  receive  an  abundant  rainfall,  the  excess  finding  its  way 
to  the  sea  through  numerous  and  copious  streams.  The  Sarstun,  on  the  southern 
frontier,  is  700  yards  wide  at  its  mouth,  and  has  nearly  seven  feet  of  water  at  the 
bar  ;  within  this  obstruction  vessels  ride  at  anchor  in  depths  of  35  or  even  40  feet. 
The  other  rivers,  following  northwards,  although  generally  rising  nearer  to  the 
coast  and  less  voluminous,  are  all  equally  navigable.  Some  even  send  down 
sufficient  water  to  fill  the  coast  lagoons  on  both  sides,  and  carry  far  seawards  two 
banks  of  alluvial  matter.  One  of  the  largest  is  the  Sibun,  which  reaches  the  sea 
a  few  miles  south  of  the  capital,  after  traversing  a  region  of  limestone  hills  pierced 
by  underground  galleries.  It  receives  some  of  the  waters  flowing  from  the  Cocks- 
comb range,  which  however  is  chiefly  drained  by  the  Mopan,  or  Belize  as  it  is  usually 
called  by  the  English.  This  river  rises  south-east  of  Lake  Itza,  or  Peten,  in  Gua- 
temala, and  after  a  winding  north-easterly  course  enters  British  territory  at  the 
Garbutt  Falls.  Here  it  is  known  to  the  inhabitants  by  the  Spanish  name  of  Rio 
Viejo,  or  "  Old  River,"  probably  because  before  the  arrival  of  the  English  settlers 
it  had  already  been  used  as  a  navigable  waterway.  The  Belize  deposits  a  great 
quantity  of  sediment  in  the  shallow  waters  about  its  mouth,  where  a  long  alluvial 
peninsula  has  thus  been  formed,  which  projects  beyond  the  normal  shore- line. 
North  of  tlie  Belize  no  other  rivers  worthy  of  the  name  are  met  except  the  Nuevo 
and  Hondo,  which  discharge  their  waters  at  the  south-west  corner  of  Chetumal 
Bay.  The  Hondo,  that  is,  "  Deep,"  deserves  its  name,  being  navigable  for  a  great 
part  of  its  course,  which  forms   the  frontier-line   between  British   Honduras  and 

*   Bellamy,  loc.  cit. 


that  part  of  Yucatan  which  is  still  held  by  the  independent  Indians.  Eoth  the 
Xuevo  and  Hondo  traverse  low-lying  districts  studded  with  shallow  lakes  which 
communicate  with  the  shifting  fluvial  channels. 

The  SiLiBOARD. 

For  a  distance  of  loo  miles,  between  the  Amatique  and  Chetumal  inlets,  the 
whole  seaboard  is  fringed  b}"  an  outer  coastline  formed  by  coral  reefs,  which  here 
and  there  develop  wooded  cays,  islands,  and  inlets,  the  lines  of  mangroves  grow- 
ing even  on  the  still  submerged  banks.  The  space  between  the  two  coasts,  which 
is  no  less  than  eighteen  miles  wide,  is  for  the  most  part  occupied  by  shoals  covered 
by  only  a  few  yards  of  water.  Xevertheless  winding  channels  sheltered  from  the 
surf  run  parallel  with  the  seaboard  between  the  coral  beds,  and  thus  form  a  valuable 
line  of  inland  navigation  available  for  the  coasting  trade. 

Seen  from  the  high  sea,  the  chain  of  breakers  separating  the  inner  lagoons 
from  the  outer  waters  seems  impassable,  nor  can  they  be  crossed  vrithout  a  pilot 
even  by  skippers  provided  with  the  best  charts.  Js^evertheless  some  of  the  passages 
are  very  deep,  that  of  BeHze,  amongst  others,  ranging  from  50  to  150  feet  and 
upwards.  Others,  again,  are  so  shallow  that  the  local  fishermen  are  able  to  wade 
across  them.  The  opening  between  the  Yucatan  mainland  and  Ambergris,  largest 
of  the  cays,  is  accessible  only  to  small  craft  drawing  less  than  30  inches. 

Chetiunal  Bay,  which  is  separated  from  the  sea  by  Ambergris  Island,  presents 
the  same  general  features  as  the  two  more  northerly  bays  of  Espiritu  Santo  and 
Asencion  in  Yucatan,  but  it  is  far  larger,  having  a  superficial  area  of  some  400 
square  miles.  The  whole  basin  teems  with  coralline  life,  and  the  reefs  in  process 
of  formation,  covered  with  a  mean  depth  of  from  10  to  16  feet  of  water,  are  highest 
at  the  entrance  of  the  passage,  growing  more  slowly  towards  the  head  of  the 
inlets,  where  depths  of  24  to  26  feet  are  met.  The  inland  basin  itself  is  navi- 
gated only  by  flat-bottomed  craft,  which  are  engaged  in  shipping  timber  and  dye- 
woods  about  the  mouths  of  the  rivers.  It  is  noteworthy  that  both  shore-lines,  the 
already  consolidated  beach  on  the  mainland  and  the  outer  chain  of  cays,  run  nearly 
parallel  to  each  other,  and  that  the  latter  forms  the  direct  southern  continuation 
of  the  east  Yucatan  seaboard.  Moreover,  the  valley  traA'ersed  by  the  Belize  river 
above  its  great  bend  round  to  the  east  is  continued  northwards  by  a  series  of 
lagoons  and  by  another  fluvial  valley,  that  of  the  Eio  Xuevo  (Xew  Biver),  all  of 
which  are  disposed  in  the  same  direction,  forming  with  the  west  side  of  Chetumal 
Bay  a  third  line  parallel  with  that  of  both  shores. 

The  Eio  Hondo  also  flows  in  the  same  diiection  along  the  foot  of  a  cliff  which 
may  likewise  have  been  an  old  shore- line.  Lastly,  still  farther  inland,  the  parallel- 
ism is  maintained  in  the  interior  of  Yucatan  by  the  twin  Mariscal  and  Bacalar 
lagoons,  and  if  the  maps  of  this  part  of  British  Honduras  can  be  trusted,  other 
lagoons,  such  as  Aguada  San  Pedro,  Aguada  Concepcion  and  Aguada  Carolina, 
au  follow  the  same  general  direction,  which  would  appear  to  be  that  of  successively 
developed  coastlines.      But   this    hypothesis  still    awaits  confirmation    from  the 



geological  survey  of  the  interior,  which  will  probably  show  that  the  banks  of  the 
parallel  rivers  and  lagoons  are  really  composed  of  coralline  rocks  constituting 
west  and  east  a  series  of  terraces  with  very  broad  steps.     An  analogous  pheno- 

Fig.  83. — Paealielism  of  the  Old  and  Eeceijt  "Watebcottbses. 
Scale  1  :  3,000,000. 



50  to  600 

500  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

.  GO  Slilcs. 

menon  is  presented  by  the  concentric  shores  of  Florida,  which  were  successively 
formed  by  the  coral-builders  during  the  course  of  ages. 

The  islands  in  the  gulf  beyond  the  fringing  reefs  also  follow  the  general 
direction  and  belong  to  the  same  formation.  Thus  Turneffe,  that  is,  Tierra  Nueva, 
a  verdant  group  facing  Belize,  rests  on  a  foundation  of  reefs  whose  chanuels,  partly 


obstructed  by  sand,  form  natural  reservoirs  for  fish  and  turtles.  Turneffe  may 
be  regarded  as  a   large  island  disposed  in   a  line  with  the  Chinchorro  bank  and 

Cozumel  Island  in  the  Yucatan  waters.  It  looks  like  a  first  instalment  towards  a 
future  beach,  while  yet  another  shore-line  in  course  of  development  seems  to  be 
indicated  by  the  more  distant  Glover  and  Lighthouse  rocks. 

Climate,  Flora,  Fauna. 

British  Honduras,  a  mere  political  enclave  at  the  neck  of  the  Yucatan  peninsula 
between  Mexico  and  Guatemala,  differs  little  in  its  climate  from  these  regions. 
At  Belize  the  mean  temperature  is  about  78"  or  80'  Fahr.,  and  although  even 
in  summer  it  scarcely  rises  above  86',  the  heat  is  very  difficult  to  bear,  owing  to 
the  humidity  of  the  atmosphere.  In  the  town  of  Belize,  surrounded  by  rivers, 
lagoons  and  swamps,  fogs  are  frequent  and  dews  abundant ;  hence  the  sky  is 
mostly  overcast,  and  when  the  west  wind  blows,  the  mosquitoes  arrive,  with 
intermittent  agues  caused  by  the  exhalations  from  the  neighbouring  marshes. 
"Winter  is  the  best  season,  when  the  northern  winds  prevail,  and  when  the  roar 
of  the  breakers  is  heard  on  the  chain  of  islands,  under  whose  shelter  the  water 
remains  calm  at  Belize. 

The  flora  and  fauna  of  British  Honduras  resemble  those  of  Yucatan,  but  in 
all  the  non-calcareous  and  well-watered  valleys  the  forests  are  far  more  extensive 
and  leafy.  In  the  interior  the  woodlands  alternate  with  pastures  such  as  those 
of  Peten,  where  hundreds  of  thousands  of  cattle  might  be  raised,  but  where  the 
destructive  nigua  (jmlex  peiiefram)  has  been  introduced  from  the  east.  The 
British  Honduras  waters  are  well  stocked  with  fish,  and  here  large  numbers  of 
turtles  are  captured  for  the  London  market. 


The  town,  which  under  the  Spanish  form  of  Belize  stiU  bears  the  name  of  its 
founder,  the  freebooter  "VTallace,  lies  on  the  west  side  of  the  inner  lagoon,  where 
the  scarcely  emerged  land  is  traversed  by  the  Rio  Yiejo  (Mopan,  or  Belize).  The 
two  quays  of  the  port  are  connected  by  a  wooden  bridge  which  crosses  the 
mouth  of  the  river.  But  the  ground  is  so  low  that  it  has  had  to  be  artificially 
raised  with  the  ballast  of  vessels  frequenting  the  harbour,  with  driftwood  and 
other  flotsam.  Nevertheless  a  tide  a  little  higher  than  the  usual,  which  scarcely 
exceeds  twenty  inches,  would  stiffice  to  flood  the  houses,  ilost  of  these  are  built 
of  wood,  or  rest  on  pUes,  for  stone  or  brick  would  soon  sink  into  the  spon^v 
soil.  A  few  villas  stand  on  the  neighbomiag  islets,  these  being  considered  more 
salubrious  than  the  town,  beyond  which  extends  a  marshy  tract  crossed  by  embank- 
ments. The  harbour  shoals  so  gradually  that  it  is  accessible  only  to  vessels  of 
light  draught ;  it  is  also  exposed  to  the  east  winds,  though  the  surf  is  broken  by 
the  islands  fringing  the  coast  and  by  the  more  distant  reefs.  The  only  supplies 
procurable  on  the  spot   are  the  fish  and  other  produce  of  the  neighbouring  waters ; 



it  is  quite  impossible  to  raise  any  crops  on  the  flooded  or  swampy  ground  in  the 
neighbourhood,  and  Belize  formerly  drew  nearlj^  all  its  provisions  from  Bacalar 
in  Yucatan,  whence  they  were  forwarded  by  Chetumal  Bay.  But  since  the 
destruction  of  that  place,  supplies  are  drawn  from  various  parts  of  the  seaboard, 
and  especially  from  the  United  States  across  the  Gulf  of  Mexico.  Although 
surrounded  by  rivers,  Belize  is  unable  to  procure  any  water  even  from  the  Mopan, 
and  is  supplied  by  cisterns.  But  while  the  neighbouring  forests  abounded  in 
mahogany,  campeachy  wood   and  cedar,   which   were  easily  floated  down  in  the 

Fig.  84. — Belize  and  the  Cockscomb  MouNTAr:Ja. 
Scale  1  :  i.eon.ocn. 


n  f  0  5 

5  to  50 

50  to  500 

500  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

30  Miles. 

form  of  rafts,  the  settlers  did  a  flourishing  trade,  and  grew  rich  despite  the  many 
drawbacks  of  the  position.  Now,  however,  timber  of  large  size  has  become  rare, 
and  the  inhabitants,  mostly  blacks  or  people  of  colour,  have  been  compelled  to 
engage  in  other  pursuits,  and  at  present  the  trade  of  Belize  consists  chiefly  in 
produce  and  wares  imported  from  the  United  States  and  Great  Britain,  which 
are  redistributed  amongst  the  Atlantic  ports  of  Guatemala  and  Honduras.  The 
local  e-Kports  are  chiefly  fruits,  and  most  of  the  traffic  is  served  by  a  steamer 
plying  regularly  between  New  Orleans  and  Belize. 

The  population  of  the  town  has  fallen  from  nearly  11,000  in  1844  to  less  than, 
6,000  in  1889,  and  Belize  can  scarcely  fail  to  continue  to  decline  whenever  more 

I     : 



frequent  direct  commuuications  are  established  between  the  Central  American  ports 
and  those  of  Europe  and  the  Uuitcd  States.  A  revival  of  prosperitj^  ™;iy,  however, 
be  brought  about  by  developing  the  neighbouring   sugar,   coffee,    banana,   orange, 

Fig  85. — Domains  of  Bkitish  Honduras. 

Scale  1  :  2,500,000. 

Crown  Liuids.  Domam  of  the  Other  CoQcessions. 

Belize  Estate  Company. 

,  60  Miles. 

caoutchouc  and  henequen  plantations,  and  by  opening  new  routes  or  railways  with 
the  inland  districts  of  Peten  and  Yucatan.  But  such  pro.<pects  appear  somewhat 
remote,  at  least  so  long  as  most  of  the  estates  continue  to  be  held  by  absentee  pro- 


prietors,  unwilling  or  unable  to  develop  the  local  resources.  One  land  compiny 
alone  owns  over  one-third  of  the  colonial  domain,  although  unable  to  utilise  a 
hundredth  part  of  its  property. 

The  port  of  Coroml,  or  Pahncraie,  occupies  a  favourable  position  at  the  mouth 
of  the  New  River  and  not  far  from  the  Rio  Hondo  ;  it  is  thus  the  natural  outlet  for 
the  timber  felled  in  these  two  fluvial  basins.  Corosal  has  also  naturally  benefited 
by  the  destruction  of  Bacalar,  which  was  situated  some  30  miles  to  the  north-west, 
on  the  lagoon  of  like  name.  Those  who  escaped  the  fury  of  the  Indian  rebels 
emigrated  in  mass  to  British  territory,  and  Corosal  is  now  the  second  town  in 
the  English  colony,  with  flourishing  sugar  plantations,  and  about  5,000  inhabi- 
tants, mostly  of  Spanish  speech.  The  other  settlements  are  mere  hamlets  or 
plantations,  or  else  fishing  villages  such  as  San  Pedro,  on  Ambergris  Island,  which 
does  som3  traffic  with  Balize.  The  most  important  p^rts  on  the  coast  are  Stanii 
Creek  and  Ptnifa  Gordn,  both  occupied  by  Carib  settlers,  who  have  cleared  large 
tracts  and  supply  Belize  with  cattle,  fruits,  and  vegetables.  About  700  negroes 
from  the  Southern  States  have  also  founded  the  settlement  of  Toledo,  about  ten 
miles  south  of  Punta  Gorda,  where  they  are  chiefly  occupied  with  sugar-growing. 
Turneffe  has  only  a  single  fishing  hamlet,  though  the  explorations  have  shown 
that  it  was  formerly  far  more  densely  peopled. 


British  Honduras  is  a  Crown  Colony,  under  the  direct  control  of  the  Home 
Government,  and  administered  by  a  Governor,  with  a  legislative  council  of  ten 
members.  The  annual  budget  of  over  £40,000  consists  chiefly  of  custom-house 
dues,  supplemented  by  a  grant  from  Great  Britain  ;  a  small  sum  is  also  raised  by 
the  sale  of  lands  at  the  relatively  high  price  of  nine  shillings  an  acre.  Few 
small  holders,  however,  venture  to  settle  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  powerful 
financial  companies.  Belize  and  some  other  ports  are  occujDied  by  a  few  troops 
from  Jamaica.  In  1872,  they  were  called  upon  to  protect  the  frontier  against  an 
incursion  of  the  Ma3a  Indians.  The  blacks  of  Belize  enjoy  the  privilege  of  self- 
government,  electing  a  "  queen,"  who  is  enthroned  with  great  pomp,  and  to  whom 
they  submit  all  their  little  differences. 




I. — Gener.\l  Survey. 

^TIE  long  strip  of  tropical  lands  disposed  iu  the  direction  from  nortii- 
west  to  soutli-east  between  the  Tehuantepec  Isthmus  and  the  Atrato 
vaUey,  constitutes  a  geographical  region  quite  distinct  from  the 
great  continental  masses  of  North  and  South  America ;  they  are, 
=J  however,  usually  grouped  with  the  northern  section  of  the  New 
World,  to  which  they  are  attached  by  a  broad  base  gradually  narro  \  ing  south- 
wards. In  a  remote  geological  epoch  they  were  detached  from  both,  constituting 
a  chain  of  islands  analogous  to  those  of  the  West  Indies.  But  the  exploration  of 
these  lands  is  still  far  from  complete,  except  in  a  few  districts  separated  from  each 
other  by  less-known  intervening  tracts  ;  hence  it  is  not  yet  possible  to  indicate  the 
exact  outlines  of  this  insular  chain  before  the  marine  channels  were  filled  up.  It 
seems  evident,  however,  that  this  process  was  not  accomplished  in  a  single  epoch, 
and  some  of  the  passages  stiU  persisted  for  long  ages  after  others  had  been  changed 
to  dry  land  either  by  eruptive  formation?  or  by  alluvial  deposits. 

Some  of  the  ancient  interoceanic  channels,  such  as  those  of  Tehuantepec  and 
Nicaragua,  may  still  be  clearly  traced  along  their  primitive  shores.  The  Costa 
Eica  and  Panama  peninsulas  are  also  now  attached  to  the  mainland  by  isthmuses 
whose  original  marine  character  is  easily  determined.  The  other  straits  are  more 
difficult  to  recognise ;  but  it  is  no  longer  doubtful  that  the  sea  formerly  occupied 
the  central  depression  of  Honduras  at  the  Guajoca  and  Eancho  Chiquito  passes, 
as  well  as  the  central  plateau  of  Costa  Rica,  at  that  of  Ochomogo.  Other  channels 
flowed  between  Chiriqui  and  David  Bays,  while  the  track  of  the  Panama  and 
Darien  Canals  was  already  indicated  by  the  former  marine  depressions,  one  of 
which  is  also  now  occupied  by  the  valler  of  the  lower  Atrato.  The  narrowest  part 
of  these  isthmuses  has  been  attributed  politically  to  the  South  American  State  of 
Colombia ;  but  such  official  awards  correspond  in  no  way  with,  the  divisions  far 
more  sharply  traced  by  the  hand  of  nature  herself.  Thus  the  physical  limit  of 
Central  America  is  still  clearlv  determined  ia  Colombian  territory  by  the  course 
of  the  Atrato,  the  wooded  morasses  lining  its  banks  and  the  depression  connecting 
this  fluvuil  basin  with  that  of  the  San  Juan. 


Central  America,  tuken  in  its  narrowest  political  sense,  that  is  as  the  region 
of  isthmuses-excluding  Chiapas,  .-hich  belongs  to  Mexico,  and  the  double  crescen 
of  Panama,  which  is  mcluded  in  Colombia-has  more  than  once  constituted  a  .mgle 
political  dominion.  Under  the  Spanish  rule  the  Eoyal  Aui:enza  of  GuateoKda, 
^hich  also  comprised  the  present  Mexican  province  o£  Soconusco,  extended  south- 
wards to  Chiriqui  Bay.  In  1823,  when  the  independence  of  Guatemala  was  pro- 
claimed, the  southern  provinces  continued  to  form  part  of  the  new  repubUc,  of 
which  Guatemala  was  the  capital.  But  in  1838,  after  much  cud  strife,  this  con- 
federacy was  definitely  dissolved,  and  Central  America  became  decomposed  into  tne 

Fig.  86.— Old  Stkait3  in  Ce.vteal  Amebica. 
Scale  1  :  •215,0>)0,0U0. 

Wesl   oF  Greenwich 

^  300  Wiles. 

five  autonomous  States  of  Guatemala,  Honduras,  San  Salvador,  NiCAU.iGUA  and 

Costa  Eica.  .     . 

But  in  1879,  the  constitution  of  Guatemala  already  anticipated  an  intimate 
political  union  between  the  various  republics,  and  engaged  on  Its  part  to  maintain 
and  cultivate  "  mutual  family  relations  "  with  them.  It  also  expressed  the  wish 
of  the  people  to  again  form  part  of  a  larger  Central  American  nationality.  All 
natives  of  the  neighbouring  republics  became  by  right  Guatemalan  citizens  by 
merely  expressing  a  desire  to  that  effect.  At  the  same  time,  all  these  acts  of 
fraternal  legislation  were  accompanied  by  warlike  armaments,  to  compel  the  other 
states  to  join  the  union  should  they  prove  refractory.  In  1886,  on  the  mitiative 
of  Guatemala,  a  congress  was  held  for  the  purpose  of  preparing  a  new  scheme  of 


federation,  aud  next  year  it  was  decided  that  all  disputes  between  the  several 
states  should  be  henceforth  decided,  not  by  war,  but  by  arbitration.  In  order  to 
give  practical  effect  to  that  principle,  Costa  Rica  and  Xicaragua,  at  that  time 
at  war  about  a  question  of  frontiers,  appealed  to  the  decision  of  the  United  Slates 
President.  Lastly,  the  congress  assembled  ia  September,  1889,  in  the  city  of 
San  Salvador,  concluded  a  treaty  of  union  between  the  five  states,  thereby 
constituting  themselves  a  federation  under  the  name  of  "  Centro-America,"  for  a 
provisional  term  of  ten  years.    According  to  this  ofiicial  project,  the   novitiate 

llg.  87. —  Political  Dmsioxs  of  Cexteai.  Asiebica. 
Scale  1  :  17,500,000. 

,  SOOJIiles. 

should  be  brought  to  a  close  in  1900,  when   the   definite  federal  constitution  will 
be  proclaimed. 

But  scarcely  had  this  federal  compact  been  signed  when  disappointed  ambi- 
tions tore  it  to  shreds.  A  fierce  war  broke  out  between  San  Salvador  and 
Guatemala  ;  Costa  Rica  and  Honduras  soon  after  joined  in  the  frav  ;  and  no  sooner 
had  these  troubles  been  momentarily  quelled  than  Hondni-as  became  the  scene  of 
a  sanguinary  revolution,  calling  for  the  active  interference  of  Guatemala.  In 
the  middle  of  Xovember,  1890,  President  Bogran,  of  Honduras,  had  to  fly  for  his 
life,  and  a  de  facto  government  was  proclaimed  by  General  Sanchez,  leader  of  the 
revolutionary  party.     Sanchez    was  soon  after  captured  aud  shot.     But  towards 


the  close  of  the  year  the  outlook  was   extremely  gloom}',  and   nil    the   Central 
American  states  threatened  to  be  involved  in  a  general  conflagration. 

The  great  leno-th  itself  of  Central  America,  which  extends  south-eastwards 
for  a  distanje  of  about  750  miles,  with  a  comparatively  narrow  mean  breadth, 
seemed  already  to  point  at  a  future  rupture  between  the  various  ethnical  groups 
in  this  reo-ion.  Here  the  inhabited  zone  is  even  considerably  narrower  than  the 
strip  of  land  itself.  The  civilised  populations,  Spanish  or  Mestizo,  have  nearly 
all  settled  along  the  Pacific  coast,  so  that,  on  the  opposite  slope,  the  great  fluvial 
basins  of  Gu  itemala,  the  northern  forests  of  Honduras,  the  almost  unexplored 
valleys  of  Mosquitia,  are,  so  to  say,  so  many  desert  regions,  occupied  by  a  few 
half-savage  scattered  tribes.  Thus  the  civilised  peoples,  those  who  have  con- 
stituted themselves  in  republican  states,  form  little  more  than  a  slender  cordon 
of  towns  and  villages  stretching  along  the  west  side  of  Central  America.  This 
ethnical  contrast  beWeen  the  two  oceanic  slopes  is  in  great  measure  explained  by 
the  physical  contrasts  of  soil  and  climate.  On  the  Pacific  side  are  found  nearly 
all  the  more  fertile  and  less  humid  lands,  which  offer  a  more  regular  alternation 
between  the  dry  and  the  rainy  seasons.  But  other  causes  also  tend  to  the  relative 
depopulation  of  the  Atlantic  seaboard.  Columbus  here  first  began  to  kidnap  the 
natives,  and  his  example  was  followed  by  the  West  Indian  planters  in  search  of 
slaves  to  cultivate  their  estates.  Thus  all  the  lands  accessible  by  sea,  or  by  the 
rivers,  were  wasted,  and  the  populations  that  escaped  capture  by  the  slave-hunters 
took  refuge  in  the  remote  interior.  Then  the  Spanish  settlers  were  naturally 
unable  to  establish  factories  and  develop  plantations  in  a  depopulated  and  unculti- 
vated region.  Nevertheless,  they  needed,  at  any  cost,  fortified  stations  to  main- 
tain the  communications  with  the  mother  country  ;  but  when  Spanish  supremacy 
in  the  "West  Indian  waters  was  supplanted  by  that  of  the  buccaneers,  these  posts 
themselves  were  often  attacked  and  captured.  Thus,  of  the  two  Central  American 
seaboards,  the  eastern,  facing  towards  Europe,  was  the  "  dead,"  the  western, 
skirting  the  boundless  waste  of  Pacific  waters,  the  "  living  "  coast. 

But  the  relations  have  greatly  changed  since  Central  America  has  ceased  to 
be  a  remote  dependency  of  Spain.  In  the  first  place  the  population  has  increased 
more  than  threefold ;  at  the  census  of  1778  the  "  kingdom "  of  Guatemala, 
excluding  the  province  of  Chiapas,  had  a  total  population  of  847,000,  which  had 
risen  to  about  a  milKon  in  1821,  when  Guatemala  declared  its  independence  of 
Spain.  Since  that  time  the  inhabitants  of  the  five  republics  have  more  than 
trebled ;  the  groups  of  settlers,  formerly  isolated,  have  been  gradually  brought 
closer  together  by  the  foundation  of  intermediate  colonies,  while  the  Atlantic 
slope  has  been  partly  reclaimed  for  cultivation,  and  already  possesses  its  towns  and 

Before  the  introduction  of  steam  navigation,  the  communications  were  rare 
and  uncertain,  depending  on  the  seasons  and  the  winds,  and  even  under  the  most 
favourable  conditions  they  were  always  less  rapid  than  at  present.  The  general 
service  of  packets  plying  between  the  seaports  and  on  both  sides,  arriving  and 
departing  with  the  regularity  of  clockwork,  has  reduced  by  more  than  nine-tenths 


the  dimensions  of  Central  America,  measured  not  by  miles,  but  by  hours.  More- 
over, the  interoceanic  roads  and  railways  have  almost  brought  into  close  proximity 
coastlands  which  were  formerly  separated  by  journeys  of  several  days,  and  even 
■weeks.  A  project  has  recently  been  submitted  by  the  President  of  the  United 
States  to  Congress,  having  for  its  object  the  exploration  of  the  Central  American 
States  preparatory  to  the  construction  of  a  railway  to  run  longitudinally  from 
Mexico,  through  Oaxaca,  Guatemala,  and  San  Salvador  to  Panama. 

But  much  preliminary  geographical  work  remains  to  be  done  before  any  such 
scheme  can  be  taken  in  hand.  Certain  regions,  such  as  the  metalliferous  districts 
of  Darien,  which  were  formerly  well  known,  have  even  fallen  into  oblivion.  In 
the  uninhabited  tracts,  so  difficult  are  the  routes  across  the  swamps  and  densely- 
wooded  uplands  that  small  exploring  parties  run  great  risks,  over  and  above  the 
exposure  to  the  dangerous  hot  and  moist  climate.  Paths  have  to  be  cut  through 
the  dense  tangle  of  trees  and  creepers,  and  the  traveller  has  to  avoid  the  im- 
penetrable thickets,  precipitous  escarpments,  slopes  liable  to  frequent  landslijjs, 
gorges  flooded  by  rushing  torrents,  bottomless  quagmires,  from  which  escape  is 
impossible.  Explorers  provided  even  with  the  best  guides  and  porters  have 
often  been  unable  to  advance  more  than  one  or  two  miles  a  day,  and  have  at  times 
been  fain  to  give  iip  the  struggle  and  retrace  their  steps. 

The  labour  already  expended  during  the  course  of  four  centuries  in  discovering 
or  creating  interoceanic  highways  represents  a  prodigious  outlay  of  energy, 
which  would  have  certainly  sufficed  to  accomplish  some  one  great  work  had  it 
not  been  frittered  away  in  a  thousand  different  essays.  The  first  survey  was 
made  by  Columbus  himself,  who,  in  lo02-3,  skirted  the  Central  American  sea- 
board from  Honduras  to  Vcragua  in  search  of  the  passage  which  he  hoped  would 
lead  him  to  the  "mouths  of  the  Ganges."  During  this  voyage  he  at  all  events 
heard  of  another  sea,  which  lay  a  little  farther  west.  Ten  years  afterwards 
Nunez  de  Balboa,  at  the  head  of  nearly  800  Spanish  soldiers  and  native  carriers, 
forced  his  way  across  swamps  and  rivers,  through  forests  and  hostile  populations. 
In  twenty-three  days  of  incessaint  struggles  and  hardships  he  succeeded  in  crossing 
the  isthmus,  here  40  miles  wide,  and  thus  reached  the  sj)acious  inlet  which  he 
named  the  Gulf  of  St.  Michael.  Advancing  fully  armed  into  the  rising  flood, 
he  took  possession  of  the  new  ocean  "  with  its  lands,  its  shores,  its  ports  and 
islands,  from  the  north  to  the  south  pole,  within  and  without  both  tropics,  now 
and  for  ever,  so  long  as  the  world  shall  last,  and  unto  the  judgment  day  of  all 
mortal  races."  But  the  strait  still  remained  undiscovered,  and  it  was  being 
sought  in  the  waters  west  of  the  Antilles,  when  Magellan  had  already  found  it 
at  the  southern  extremity  of  the  American  continent. 

When  it  became  evident  that  there  existed  no  marine  passage  between  the 
Caribbean  Sea  and  the  Pacific,  the  idea  naturally  occurred  of  opening  such  a 
passage  across  one  or  other  of  the  narrow  isthmuses  separating  the  two  oceans. 
Such  an  undertaking  was  beyond  the  exhausted  resources  of  Spain  ;  nevertheless 
expeditions  were  made  for  the  purpose  of  studying  the  problem  at  the  isthmus 
of  Tehuantepec,  on  the  banks  of  the  San  Juan   and  Lake  Nicaragua,  at  Panama, 


and  other  points.  Since  the  Central  American  states  have  asserted  their  inde- 
pendence such  projects  have  followed  rapidly  one  on  the  other,  all  based  on 
individual  or  collective  surveys,  and  promoted  by  costly  expeditious,  official 
encouragement  and  concessions,  lastl}'  even  by  colossal  operations  actually  begun 
and  actively  prosecuted  for  years.  The  annals  of  Central  America  record  no  less 
than  a  hundred  plans  and  schemes  for  cutting  the  isthmuses  since  the  year  1825, 
when  the  Mexican  Congress  had  the  Tehuantepec  region  again  surveyed,  and 
more  accurate  information  brought  to  bear  on  the  project  brought  forward  by 
Orbegozo  in  1771.  Panama,  like  Constantinople  and  Alexandria,  lies  at  a  point 
of  paramount  importance  for  the  growing  commerce  of  the  world ;  if  before  the 
era  of  universal  peace  the  leading  nations  agree  to  proclaim  the  neutralisatiori 
of  certain  places  essential  to  the  well-being  of  the  human  race,  assuredly  the 
American  isthmuses  wiU  be  included  in  the  category  of  such  territories. 

II. — Guatemala. 

This  republic  is  by  far  the  most  important  of  the  five  Central  American  states, 
for  it  contains  nearly  one-half  of  their  collective  population.  Like  its  Mexican 
neighbour,  it  still  bears  a  name  of  Aztec  origin,  the  term  Guatemala  (Quauh- 
temallan),  according  to  some  interpreters,  meaning  "  Eagle  Land,"  though 
a  less  poetic  etymology  gives  it  the  signification  of  "  Land  of  the  Wooden 
Piles."  Others  again  write,  U-ha-tez-ma-la,  a  group  of  syllables  which  would 
mean,  "Mountain  vomiting  water,"  the  whole  region  being  so  named  in  reference 
to  the  Agua  ("  AVater  ")  volcano,  one  of  its  loftiest  cones. 

Guatemala  corresponds  very  nearly  to  the  two  former  Spanish  provinces  of 
Quezaltenango  and  Guatemala,  though  the  frontiers  have  been  shifted  in  many 
places,  while  in  others  they  were  never  accurately  determined.  Those  at  last 
officially  adopted  coincide  neither  with  the  natural  geographical  divisions  nor 
with  the  distribution  of  the  ethnical  groups.  Thus  the  whole  of  Soconusco  with 
a  part  of  Chiapas  would  seem  properly  to  belong  to  Guatemala,  of  which  they 
form  an  orographic  extension.  On  the  other  hand  Peten,  inhabited,  like  Yucatan, 
by  Mayas,  and  also  resembling  that  region  in  the  nature  of  its  soil  and  products, 
should  form  a  political  dependency  of  that  ri-gion  rather  tlian  of  Guatemala, 
from  which  it  is  separated  by  a  steep  mountain  range.  Towards  British  Honduras 
the  frontier  has  been  drawn  by  a  straight  line  across  mountains  and  valley's,  from 
one  torrent  to  another,  the  political  border  coinciding  with  the  natural  features 
only  in  the  district  where  it  follows  the  Sarstun  river  to  its  mouth  in  Amatique 
Ba}'.  Eastwards  the  territory  of  the  republic  is  limited  by  a  meandering  line, 
which  runs  north-east  and  south-west  from  the  mouth  of  the  Rio  Tinto  on  the 
Atlantic  to  that  of  the  Rio  Paza  on  the  Pacific.  This  line  follows  the  crests  of 
the  hills  throughout  a  great  part  of  its  course,  though  here  and  there  the  boundary 
is  purely  conventional.  Taken  as  a  whole  Guatemala,  excluding  the  northern 
plains,  has  the  form  of  a  triangle  with  its  base  on  the  Pacific  and  its  apex 
projecting  towards  Honduras  Bay. 



Physical  Features. 

In  its  main  outlines  the  relief  of  Guatemala  is  extremely  simple.  The  more 
elevated  part  of  the  plateau  skirts  the  Pacific  at  a  mean  distance  of  50  or  GO 
miles  from  the  sea,  and  presents  in  this  direction  its  more  precipitous  but  also  its 
more  regular  escarpments.  The  slope  facing  the  Atlantic,  although  much  longer 
and  more  gentle,  is  more  difficult  to  traverse,  owing  to  its  abrupt  ravines  and  the 
deep  gorges  excavated  by  the  running  waters.  The  Guatemalan  range  does  not 
terminate  in  a  sharp  crest,  but,  on  the  contrary,  is  rounded  off  towards  the  summit, 
where  it  broadeus  out  in  granitic  plateaux  of  various  extent,  forming,  so  to  say, 
so  many  mesas,  or  "  tables,"  somewhat  analogous  to  those  of  Anahuac.  The  great 
irregularity  of  the  sierra  is  due   to  the  volcanoes,   which  have  risen  above  these 

Fig.  88. — Tkesd  of  the  Guatemalan  Raxges. 
Scale  1  :  4.600,1X10. 

,  CO  Miles. 

mountains  but  which  are  not  disposed  in  a  lino  with  the  sierra  ivself.  Towards 
the  frontier  of  Chiapas  and  in  the  Altos,  or  uplands,  of  Quczaltenango,  the  great 
eruptive  cones  lie  exactly  on  the  upper  edge  of  the  plateau,  their  slopes  merging 
in  the  escarj^ments  of  the  pedestal  on  which  they  rest.  But  farther  on,  that  is, 
in  the  direction  of  Salvador,  the  axis  of  the  volcanoes  running  almost  due  south- 
east ceases  to  coincide  with  that  of  the  sierra,  which  trends  more  to  the  north, 
while  the  lofty  pyramids  rise  midwaj'  on  the  slope  of  the  range,  where  they  are 
enclosed  by  a  rampart  of  ravines.  But  to  the  traveller  coasting  along  the  Guate- 
malan seaboard,  the  peaks  which  he  sees  rising  at  intervals  above  the  land  horizon 
seem  to  shoot  up  from  the  very  crest  of  the  mountains. 

The  elevation  of  the  escarpments  rising  above  the  southern  shores  of  Guatemala 
falls  gradually  from  the  frontiers  of  Chiapas  south-eastwards  in  the  direction  of 
Salvador.     In  the  Altos  or  "Heights,"   as  the  western  part   of  the  state  is  called, 


the  plateaux  exceed  6,500  feet ;  that  of  Totonicapam  rises  even  to  8,000  feel,  while 
the  chief  summits  tower  some  3,000  feet  still  higher.  The  great  central  plain  of 
Guatemala,  lying  on  the  waterparting  between  both  oceanic  slojies,  has  a  mean 
altitude  of  5,000  feet,  and  is  dominated  bj'  the  crater-shaped  peaks  of  the  Antigiia 
district,  which  reach  an  elevation  of  10,000  feet.  Lastly,  in  the  eastern  provinces 
the  uplands  do  not  appear  greatly  to  exceed  a  mean  height  of  3,300  feet,  with 
culminating  peaks  from  4,000  to  5,000  feet. 

South-east  of  the  active  Tacana  volcano,  which  has  been  chosen  as  the  boun- 
dary between  Mexico  and  Guatemala,  the  next  igneous  cone  is  Tajomulco,  which 
also  exceeds  11,600  feet;  it  dominates  the  plateau  undt.r  the  form  of  a  huge 
and  perfectly  regular  cone  clothed  at  its  base  with  dense  forests.  The  Indians 
here  find  large  quantities  of  suljihur,  which  led  DoUfus  and  Mont-Serrat  to  sup- 
pose that  the  deposits  were  constantly  renewed  by  solfataras  as  fast  as  they  were 
cleared  away.  Here  flames  were  distinctly  seen  shooting  up  by  BernouilH  in  1863. 
Beyond  Tajomulco  no  burning  mountains  occur  till  Quezaltenango  is  reached. 
This  group  comprises  three  cones  disposed  north  and  south,  the  northern,  some 
ten  miles  from  the  town,  being  a  mere  hillock  600  or  700  feet  high.  But  the 
southern,  Santa  Maria,  whose  superb  peak,  12,400  feet  high,  is  visible  from  the  sea, 
is  one  of  the  most  imposing  mountains  in  Guatemala.  Like  the  other  it  h  is  been 
extinct  from  time  immemorial,  and  dense  forests  now  clothe  both  its  flanks  and 
the  crater.  In  most  of  the  Central  American  eruptive  groups  the  southern 
volcanoes  have  remained  longest  active;  but  here  it  is  the  central  cone,  the  Cerro 
Quemado,  called  also  the  Quezaltenango  volcano,  that  still  continues  in  a  dis- 
turbed state.  Less  elevated  than  Santa  Maria,  the  Oerro  Quemado  (10,250  feet) 
in  no  way  presents  the  aspect  of  a  typical  volcano.  Its  symmetry  was  doubtless 
destroyed  during  the  last  eruption  of  1785,  whea  the  entire  terminal  cone  was 
blown  away,  leaving  in  the  place  of  the  crater  a  spacious  irregular  plaia  covered 
with  a  chaos  of  boulders,  between  which  fumeroles  are  now  seen  to  rise.  Since 
then  it  has  been  quiescent. 

East  of  the  Quemado  and  be3-ond  the  deep  gorge  of  the  Rio  Samala  rises  Mount 
Zufiil,  or  the  "  Volcano,"  as  it  is  emphatically  called  bj'  the  natives.  Yet  no 
record  remains  of  any  eruption,  nor  has  any  explorer  yet  discovered,  in  the  dense 
forests  clothing  its  flanks,  the  aperture  through  which  the  lavas  were  formerly 
ejected  from  this  cone,  which,  like  those  of  the  surrounding  district,  consists  of 
trachytic  porphyry.  About  eighteen  miles  farther  on,  and  in  a  line  with  the  axis  of 
this  igneous  system,  the  extinct  San  Pedro  (8,300  feet)  raises  its  pyramidal  peak 
near  the  south-west  corner  of  Lake  Atitlan.  About  ten  miles  farther  east  three 
other  cones,  connected  at  their  base,  are  disposed  north  and  south  transversely  to 
the  main  chain.  The  two  northern  peaks,  both  about  10,000  feet  high,  terminate 
in  small  craters  already  overgrown  with  vegetation  ;  but  the  underground  forces 
are  still  active  in  the  southern  member  of  the  group,  which  is  commonly  known  as 
the  Atitlan  volcano,  and  which  towers  to  a  height  of  11,800  feet.  At  the  time 
of  the  conquest,  Atitlan  was  in  a  state  of  commotion,  and  when  the  natives  heard 
the  continuous  rumblings  in  the   interior  of  the   mountain,  they   threw  a  young 




maiden  down  the  crater  iu  order  to  propitiate  the  angrj'  demon.  It  was  again 
active  in  1828  and  18-i''3,  and  since  that  time  abundant  vapours  have  been  con- 
stantly emitted  by  the  crevasses  near  its  summit. 

But  the  most  famous  volcanoes  in  this  region  are  those  which  dominate  the 
central  part  of  the  plateau  in  the  vicinity  of  the  successive  capitals  of  Guatemala. 
Looking  southwards   from  the   pleasant  city  of  Antigua,  the  eye  sweeps  over  a 


89.— Chain  OF  the  Fuego  Volcano. 

Scale  1  :  00,000. 



West  or    breen\vich 

.  2,200  Yard 

magnificent  prospect  of  cultivated  plains,  where  the  horizon  is  bounded  on  both 
.sides  by  the  harmonious  profile  of  the  mountain  ranges,  towering  6,000  feet  above 
the  surrounding  plateau.  On  one  side  is  the  chain  terminating  in  the  Fuego, 
or  "Fire,"  on  the  other  the  Agua,  or  "  Water,"  volcano.  The  eastern  sierra, 
where  one  crater  is  still  active,  is  itself  merely  an  elevated  ridge  above  which 
rise  nine  or  ten  eruptive  cones,  all  disposed  in  the  direction  from  north  to  south. 
The  northern  craters,  which  are  all  extinct  and  overgrown  with  vegetation, 
\oi,.   x\ii.  p 


culminate  in  tlie  AcatenangD  cone,  called  also  Fico  Mai/or,  or  Pa  Ire  del  Volcan 
("Father  of  the  Volcano"),  because  it  rises  higher  than  Fuego,  and  is,  in  fact, 
the  loftiest  summit  in  the  whole  of  Central  America  (l^i.TOO  feet).  It  was 
ascended  in  1868  by  Wyld  de  Duefias,  who  found  nothing  but  three  nearly 
obliterated  craters,  although  sulphurous  vapours  were  still  escaping  from  a 
crevasse  in  one  of  them.  Acatenango  is  separated  by  a  deep  ravine  from  the 
southern  group,  which  includes  the  vast  but  jjartly  breached  Meseta  cone. 
Beyond  it  follows  Fuego  (13,200  feet),  whose  summit,  scaled  for  the  first  time 
by  Schneider  and  Beschor  in  I8G0,  terminates  in  a  narrow  bowl  about  85  feet 
deep ;  immediately  to  the  south  is  scan  a  tremendous  chasm,  nearly  perfectlj' 
roimd,  over  4-30  yards  in  diameter  and  no  less  than  2,000  feet  deep.  Fuego  was 
in  full  eruption  at  the  time  of  the  Spanish  invasion,  and  the  terror  it  inspired 
in  the  natives  seemed  to  show  that  they  had  previous  experience  of  its  destructive 
energy.  Since  that  time  explosions  have  been  frequent,  and  the  surrounding 
districts  have  often  been  laid  under  ashes. 

Agua,  which  corresponds  to  Fuego  on  the  other  side  of  the  valley,  although 
not  quite  so  lofty  (12,360  feet),  presents  a  more  majestic  appearance  due  to  its 
completely  isolated  position.  Seen  from  Escuintla,  near  its  southern  base,  it 
seemed  "  the  most  lovely  sight  in  the  world  "  to  DoUfus  and  Mout-Serrat,  by 
whom  it  has  been  scaled.  The  gaze  here  follows  the  perfect  curve  of  its  escarp- 
ments unbroken  by  any  disturbing  prominence,  while  the  vegetable  zones — 
cultivated  ground,  leaf}-  forests  and  pine  groves — follow  with  their  varying  tints 
one  above  the  other  along  its  regular  slopes.  Despite  repeated  assertions  to  the 
contrary,  Agua  has  never  been  in  eruption  since  the  epoch  of  the  conquest.  The 
catastrophe  to  which  it  owes  its  name  was  caused  by  the  bursting  of  the  rim  of 
the  crater,  which  was  flooded  by  a  terminal  tarn  at  the  summit  of  the  mountain. 
To  reach  this  point  travellers  usually  pass  through  the  breach,  and  here  some 
idea  may  be  formed  of  the  liquid  mass  formerly  contained  in  the  -basin  suspended 
thousands  of  feet  above  the  plains.  Assuming  that  the  reservoir,  about  230  feet 
deep,  was  entirelj^  filled,  it  would  have  been  nearlj^  a  third  of  a  mile  in  circum- 
ference at  its  upper  rim,  and  760  feet  round  at  the  bottom ;  consequently,  its 
volume  could  not  have  been  much  more  than  35,000,000  cubic  feet.  But  when 
the  side  of  the  crater  gave  way  on  the  disastrous  day  in  1541,  the  aperture 
occurred  immediately  above  the  capital,  which  the  Spanish  conquerors  had  just 
founded  on  the  site  of  the  present  Ciudad  Yieja.  The  avalanche  of  water  rushed 
down  the  mountain,  tearing  up  the  ground,  sweeping  rocks  and  trees  along  its 
irresistible  course,  and  bur}'ing  the  city  beneath  heaps  of  mud  and  debris. 

Agua  is  separated  by  the  deep  valley  of  the  Rio  Michatoya  from  the  Pacaya, 
a  group  of  igneous  peaks  so  named  from  a  species  of  palm  growing  at  its  base 
and  producing  edible  flowers.  A  near  view  of  Pacaj'a  reveals  a  cluster  of 
irregular  summits,  where  the  supreme  cone  seems  to  have  disappeared  during 
some  prehistoric  convulsion.  The  loftiest  cone,  which  is  still  active,  rises  to  a 
height  of  8,400  feet,  or  some  3,000  feet  above  the  surrounding  plateau.  Close 
by  is  a  wooded  peak,  and  both  of  these  crests  are  enclosed  within  the  breached 



marffin  of  an  enormous  crater  some  miles  in  circumference.  Ou  a  neisrlibourinsr 
terrace  also  stand  two  otlier  orators,  one  of  which,  the  Caldcvu,  or  "Cauldron,"  of 
the  natives,  contains  a  lake  of  pure  water,  while  from  tlic  other  light  vapours 
are  still  emitted.     According  to  a  local  tradition  the  smoking  peak  of  Pacaya  was 


the  scene  of  an  eruption  in  1565,  and  since  that  time  it  has  never  ceased  to  eject 
ashes,  vapours,  and  even  lavas. 

None  of  the  other  volcanoes  in  the    eastern    part   of   Guatemala   have  been 
disturbed  in  recent  times.     Two  of  these  lie  a  short  distance   east  of  Pacaj  a  at 

p  2 



the  villnge  of  Cerro  Itedondo,  or  "Round  Hill,"  which  takes  its  name  from  one 
of  the  cones.  Farther  on  another  is  mentioned  by  travellers,  beyond  which  the 
normal  igneous  chain  is  cut  at  right  angles  by  a  transverse  fissure  which  extends 
for  over  60  miles  towards  the  north-east.  It  begins  near  the  coast,  where  the 
Moyuta  or  JMoj'utla  peak  rises  far  to  the  south  of  the  main  axis,  and  it  is  con- 
tinued on  the  opposite  o.r  north  side  by  Am:ij-o,  Cuma  or  Columa,  Santa  Catarina, 
or  Suchite])ec   and    Ipala,   loftiest  pe  ik   of  this    transverse    range    (5,4(35    feet). 

Ipali  terminates  in  a  flooded  crater, 

Fig.  91.-  Pacaya  Volcano. 
Seile  1  :  130,000. 

and  on  one  of  its  flanks  is  rooted 
another  igneous  cone  called  Mount 
Rico.  The  Guatemalan  igneous 
system  terminates  near  the  frontier, 
where  the  perfectly  symmetrical 
cone  of  Chiugo  rises  to  a  height  of 
over  6,600  feet  above  the  prolonga- 
tion of  the  main  range.  Chingo  is 
said  to  be  extinct,  although  DoDfus 
and  Mont-Serrat  fancied  they  saw 
some  vapours  escaping  from  its 

North  of  the  Guatemalan  plateau 
the  regions  carved  by  the  run- 
ning waters  into  nuraei'ous  separate 
masses  present  a  chaotic  appearance 
in  many  places,  especially  towards 
the  diverging  sources  of  the  Motagua 
and  Usumacinta  rivers.  Here  the 
highlands  form  a  central  nucleus 
whence  radiate  several  elevated 
chains.  The  loftiest  of  these  sierras 
is  probably  the  Altos  Cuchuinatanes, 
which  runs  north  of  Huehuetenango 
towards  Tabasco ;  it  is  also  known 
as  the  Sierra  Madre,  although  it  is 
separated  from  the  other  Guatemalan 
ranges  by  the  deep  valley  of  the 
Usumacinta.  East  of  this  copious 
stream  the  ranges  are  disposed  mostly  west  and  east,  and  gradually  diminish 
in  altitude  in  the  same  direction.  Taken  as  a  whole,  this  northern  region  of 
Guatemala  draining  to  the  Atlantic,  and  limited  southwards  by  the  lofty 
rampart  of  the  main  range,  may  be  compared  to  a  stormy  sea  breaking  into 
parallel  billows.  One  of  these  great  billows,  consisting  of  mica  schists,  runs 
north  and  parallel  to  the  Motagua  under  the  name  of  Sierra  de  las  Miuas,  so  desig- 
nated from  its  auriferous  deposits.     Farther  east,  where  it  is  known  as  the  Sierra 

.  Si  Miles. 


del  Mico,  or  "  Monkey  Range,"  it  reaches  the  coast  between  the  Eio  Golfete  and 
St.  Thomas's  Bay,  where  it  terminates  in  the  Cerro  de  San  Gil,  a  conic  mountain 
said  by  the  natives  to  be  a  volcano.  At  the  point  where  it  is  crossed  by  the  main 
route,  about  60  miles  from  its  eastern  extremity,  the  Minas  Range  is  about  3,000 
feet  high.  The  ridge  running  north  of  the  Rio  Polochic  takes  the  nama  of  Sierra 
Cahabon  in  the  pro\-ince  of  Alta  Vera  Paz.  Towards  its  eastern  extremity  the 
Sierra  de  Santa  Cruz,  as  it  is  here  called,  develops  the  headland  which  separates 
the  Rio  Golfete  from  Amatique  Bay. 

In  the  north  of  Guatemala  the  last  great  chain  is  the  Charaa,  which  trends 
north-eastwards  round  the  sources  of  the  Rio  de  la  Pasion.  Towards  the  east  it  is 
connected  by  a  few  low  ridges  with  the  Cockscomb  Mountains  in  Briti-sh  Honduras. 
The  passes  over  this  sierra,  which  have  been  traversed  by  few  explorers,  are 
extremelv  rugged  and  ditEcult,  not  so  much  because  of  their  elevation  as  of  the 
vertical  disposition  of  the  rocky  crests.  North  of  the  Sierra  de  Chama  stretch  the 
savannas,  which  are  continued  northwards  in  the  direction  of  Yucatan.  But 
these  plains  are  dotted  over  with  isolated  hills,  for  the  most  part  wooded,  rising 
like  verdant  islands  in  the  midst  of  a  verdant  sea. 

Speaking  generally,  the  southern  and  central  parts  of  Guatemala  are  almost 
entirely  covered  with  pumice  in  the  form  of  tufa.  The  granites,  mica  schists  and 
porphyries  are  only  seen  here  and  there,  on  the  more  elevated  parts  of  the  plateaux 
and  mountains,  or  in  the  depressions  eroded  by  running  waters.  The  quantity 
of  pumice  ejected  by  the  volcanoes  was  prodigious,  the  deposits  accumulated  in 
every  part  of  the  country  having  a  thickness  of  loO  and  even  200  yards.  There 
exists  scarcely  a  single  valley  which  has  not  been  partly  filled  in,  or  a  plateau  that 
has  not  been  levelled  by  these  deposits. 

On  the  masses  of  pumice  lies  a  layer  of  yellowish  clay,  with  a  mean  thickness 
of  twelve  or  fifteen  feet,  which  has  probably  been  formed  by  the  surface  decomposi- 
tion of  the  uuderl\-ing  rocks.  It  is  in  these  clays  and  in  the  pumice  immediately 
below  them  that  are  found  from  time  to  time  the  remains  of  mastodons  and  of 
Elephas  Culombi,  animals  which  lived  during  quaternary  times.  Hence  this  was 
the  epoch  during  which  occm-red  the  prodigious  eruptions  of  the  Guatemalan 

EivKHs  AM)  Lakes. 

The  rainfall  is  sufficiently  abundant  in  Guatemala  to  feel  a  considerable 
number  of  watercourses.  But  rivers  in  the  strict  sense  of  the  term  could  scarcely 
be  developed  except  on  the  Atlantic  slope,  where  the  disposition  of  the  land  and  its 
gradual  incline  afforded  space  for  the  running  waters  to  ramify  in  extensive  fluvial 
systems.  On  the  Pacific  side,  where  the  escarpments  of  the  plateaux  fall  abruptly 
seawards,  the  torrents  descend  rapidly  through  the  parallel  ravines  furrowing  the 
flanks  of  the  mountains.  Almost  waterless  during  the  dry  season,  but  very  cojiious 
in  winter,  these  streams  for  the  most  part  discharge  into  the  coast  lagoons.  In 
fact,  they  do  not  communicate  at  once  with  the  sea,  from  which  they  are  separated 
by  sandy  strips  several  miles  long,  and  the  seaward  channels  themselves  are  often 


sliifted  by  the  tides  and  tempests.  One  of  the  largest  streams  on  the  Pacific  side 
is  the  Suchiate,  which  forms  the  common  frontier  between  Guatemahi  and  Mexico. 
A  still  more  extensive  basin  is  that  of  the  Siimala,  which  flows  from  the  Quezal- 
tenango  and  Totonicapam  heights.  The  Iztacapa  is  a  smaller  river,  although  it 
receives  the  overflow  of  ]j  ike  Atitlan,  not  through  a  surface  stream,  but  through 
underground  flltrations  across  the  scoriae  covering  the  plain  of  San  Lucas,  on  the 
southern  bank.  Lake  Atitlan  itself,  which  has  an  area  of  6-5  square  miles, 
develops  an  irregular  crescent  at  an  altitude  of  5,140  feet,  round  the  spurs  of  the 
Atitlan  volcano,  which  rises  on  its  southern  margin,  and  which  cre.ited  the  lake  by 
damming  up  the  fluvial  vallej's.  The  waters  thus  jjent  up  by  the  accumulating  beds 
of  ashes  and  lavas  gradually  filled  the  vast  Atitlan  basin,  which  is  said  to  have  a 
depth  of  over  1,650  feet.  The  water,  being  continually  renewed,  thanks  to  the 
subterranean  outflow,  is  perfectly  fresh  and  limpid. 

Farther  e;.-it  the  sm  lUer  Lake  Amatitlan  has  been  forme  1  under  analogous 
conditions  at  an  altitude  of  4,000  feet.  Here  the  waters  have  been  graduall}^ 
dammed  up  by  the  lavas  and  scoriae  deposited  by  the  Pacaya  volcjno  on  the  south 
side  of  the  lake.  Formerly  its  busin  was  oven  far  more  extensive  than  at  present, 
and  traces  of  its  old  level  are  still  distinctl}^  visible  at  distances  of  several  miles 
from  the  present  margin.  The  water  of  Amatitlan,  which  exceeds  200  fathoms  in 
depth,  is  as  fresh  a-3,  but  less  pure  than,  that  of  Atitlan,  and  along  the  margin  its 
temperature  is  raised  by  thermal  springs.  Nearly  two  hundred  years  ago  .Thomas 
Gage  ?poke  of  it  as  "  somewhat  brackish,"  adding  that  sdt  was  collected  on  irs 
shores.  Such  is  no  longer  the  case,  its  flavour  being  in  no  way  affected  by  the 
slightly  purgative  salts  of  soda  and  magnesia  which  it  contains  in  solution,  though, 
they  give  rise  to  a  strong  odour  during  the  dry  season.  It  is  probably  fed  by 
underground  affluents,  the  few  surface  streams  draiuinar  to  the  basin  being 
insufficient  to  create  an  emissary.  The  overflow  is  discharged  south-eastwards  to 
the  Michato\'a,  or  "  Fidi  River,"  which  escapes  from  the  plateau  through  a  deep 
gorge  600  or  700  feet  below  an  escarpment  of  the  Pacaya  volcano.  Farther  on 
the  affluent  has  a  clear  fall  of  200  feet  near  San  Pedro  Martir,  beyond  which 
point  it;  loses  itself  in  the  coast  lagoon?  a  little  to  the  east  of  the  port  of  San  Jose. 

Amatitlan  lies  about  midway  between  Atitlan  and  Ayarza  (Ayarcesj,  a  third 
flooded  depression  at  the  southern  foot  of  the  Mataquezcuintla  mountains,  which 
here  rise  to  a  height  of  over  8,000  feet.  But  Ayarza  already  belongs  to  the  San 
Salvador  hydrographic  system,  draining  through  the  Ostua  t>  the  fluvial  basin  of 
the  Rio  Lempa,  main  ai-tery  of  the  neighbouring  state.  On  the  Atlantic  slope, 
also  all  the  western  and  northern  regions,  at  least  one-half  of  the  whole  territory 
belongs  to  the  Usumaeinta  basin,  which  throughout  its  lower  course  flows  through 
Sfexican  territory'.  The  largest  watercourse  entirely  comprised  within  the  limits 
of  Gruatcmala  is  the  Motagua,  which,  like  so  many  others  in  Spanish  America,  is 
called  also  the  Rio  Grande.  It  rises  in  the  central  mass  of  the  Altos  de  Totoni- 
capam, where  its  headstrcams  are  intermingled  with  those  of  the  Usumacinta. 
Farther  oast  it  collects  all  the  tori'ents  descending  from  the  main  Guatemalan 
watcrparting,  which  in  many  i)laces  is  contracted  to  a  narrow  ridge  furrowed  on 


both  sides  by  deep  ravines.  But  the  Motagua  flows,  not  through  one  of  these 
eroded  vallej's,  but  through  an  older  fissure  belonging  to  the  original  structure  of 
the  land.  After  its  confluence  with  the  copious  affluent  from  the  Esquipulas  and 
Chiquimula,  the  Motagua  becomes  navigable  for  small  craft.  From  this  point  it 
follows  a  north-easterly  course,  skirted  on  both  sides  by  picturesque  wooded 
heights  all  the  way  to  its  mouth  in  Honduras  Bay.  During  the  floods  it  is  a 
broid  and  deep  stream,  navigable  for  over  100  miles  in  a  total  length  of  300  miles. 
But  the  approach  is  obstructed  by  a  bar  at  the  mouth  of  the  chief  branch  in  the 
delta,  which  has  usually  scaixely  more  than  thres  feet  of  water.  The  other 
branches  are  also  inaccessible  to  vessels  of  large  draught,  and  the  whole  of  the  low- 
lying  alluvial  tract  is  a  region  of  swamps  and  backwaters  fringed  with  mangroves, 
almost  as  dangerous  to  approach  from  the  land  as  from  the  sea.  So  unhealthy  is 
the  district  that  the  inlet  enclosed  by  the  long  promontorj'  of  Tres  Puntas,  pro- 
jecting north-west  towards  Amatique  Buy,  is  called  Hospital  BaJ^  This  inlet 
is  connected  with  the  main  stream  by  a  partly  artificial  channel  ;  but  the  true 
port  of  the  fluvial  basin  lies,  not  in  the  delta,  but  immediately  beyond  it  at  the 
foot  of  the  last  spurs  of  the  Sierra  del  Mico.  Here  is  St.  Thomas's  Bay,  the  best 
haven  along  the  whole  Atlantic  seaboard  of  Central  America.  After  rounding 
a  dangerous  sandbank  large  vessels  penetrate  through  a  narrow  channel  into  a 
circular  basin  enclosed  by  an  amphitheatre  of  wooded  hills.  Here  is  ample  space 
for  hundreds  of  ships  in  a  perfectly  sheltered  sheet  of  water  with  a  superficial  area 
of  six  square  miles  and  depths  ranging  from  14  to  30  feet. 

Like  that  of  Motagua,  the  Polochic  basin  is  entirelj'  comprised  within 
Guatemalan  territory.  Although  a  smaller  stream,  it  is  navigable  by  flat- 
bottomed  boats  for  about  an  equal  distance  from  its  mouth.  Rising  in  the  Cohan 
mountains,  which  here  form  the  divide  towards  the  Usumacinta  valley,  the 
Polochic  flows  almost  due  east  to  its  junction  with  the  Cahabon,  which  descends 
from  the  Sierra  de  Chama  to  its  left  bank  below  Teleman.  Like  the  Motagua  it 
ramifies  through  several  arms  at,  its  mouth,  where  numerous  shoals  bar  all  access 
except  to  light  flat-bottomed  craft.  The  delta,  however,  lies  not  on  the  Atlantic, 
but  on  an  inland  sea  known  as  the  Golfo  Dulce  or  Izabal  Lagoon.  This  "golfo  " 
certainly  appears  to  be  a  lacustrine  basin  rather  than  a  marine  inlet,  for  it 
has  not  the  slightest  trace  of  salt,  and  during  the  floods  its  level  rises  about  40 
inches.  It  has  a  mean  depth  of  from  35  to  40  feet,  and  as  it  has  an  area  of 
over  '2o0  miles,  it  might  easily  accommodate  all  the  navies  of  the  world  but  for 
the  shallow  channel  through  which  it  communicates  with  the  sea. 

Towards  its  north-east  extremity  the  current,  elsewhere  imperceptible,  begins 
to  be  felt ;  its  banks,  here  low  and  swampy,  gradually  converge,  and  the  Golfo 
Dulce  becomes  the  Rio  Dulce,  whose  depth  falls  in  some  places  to  ten  or  twelve 
feet.  Lower  down  the  water  grows  more  and  more  brackish,  and  the  Rio  Dulce 
enters  another  basin,  whose  saline  properties  betray  its  marine  origin.  Below  the 
Golfete  or  "  Little  Gulf,"  as  this  basin  is  called,  the  banks  again  grow  higher, 
developing  cliffs  and  escarpments,  where  the  lianas,  twining  round  the  branches  of 
great  forest  trees,  fall  in  festoons  down  to  the  stream.     During  ebb-tide  the  water 

21 G 


flows  in  :i  swift  current  seawards  through  a  rocky  gorge  about  600  feet  deep, 
but  with  scareeh-  six  feet  at  the  bar.  From  this  bar  to  the  Polochic  delta  there 
is  a  clear  waterway  of  about  GO  miles  navigable  by  schooners. 

North  of  the  Golfo  Dulce  and  its  sti-aits  the  only  important  river  is  the 
Sar.stun,  whose  lower  course  has  been  chosen  as  the  frontier  towards  British 
Honduras.  Farther  north  the  quadrilateral  space  comprised  between  Tabasco, 
Yucatan  and  Belize  is  drained  partly  by  the  Usumxcinti,  and  partly  by  the  Bios 
Mopnn  and  Hondo,  leaving  only  a  few  lakes  dotted  over  the  northern  savannas 
with  no  outflow.  The  largest  of  these  is  Lake  Itzal,  so  named  from  the  Itzas,  a 
Yucatan  nation  which  took  refuge  on  its  shores  in  the  fifteenth  century.     It  is 

Fig.  02. — Golfo  Dulce  and  the  Lowek  JIoiAGri 

Scale  I  :  l,7r'0  '"^"l. 


10  to  .iO 

50  Fatlioms 
and  upwards, 

CO  .Miles. 

also  called  Peten,  or  the  "  Island,"  from  an  isolated  hill  where  the  immigrants 
founded  their  first  settlement.  Peten  has  the  form  of  an  irregular  crescent,  with  its 
convex  side  facing  north-westwards,  and  is  divided  into  two  basins  by  a  peninsula 
projecting  from  its  south  side.  Enclosed  between  low  limestone  banks,  the  lake 
rises  several  yards  during  the  rains,  while  in  some  places  it  has  a  normal  depth 
of  over  180  feet.  Some  of  the  creeks,  however,  are  shallow  enough  to  develop  a 
rich  growth  of  waterlilies,  whose  seeds  in  times  of  scarcity  are  ground  and 
kneaded  to  a  sort  of  bread  which  is  astringent  but  little  nutritive.  Peten  is  at 
present  a  closed  basin,  but  other  lacustrine  depressions  scattered  over  the  savannas 
appear  to  have  formerly  connected  it  on  one  side  with  the  San  Pedro  affluent  of 
the  Usumacinta,  on  the  other  with  the  Rio  Hondo,  which  flows  to  Honduras  Bay. 


Climate,  Fi.nitA,  Faixa. 

Tlie  distribution  of  the  climates  in  vertical  zones  of  temperature  is  far  more 
clearly  marked  in  the  southern  parts  of  Guatemala  than  in  Mexico  itself. 
The  regular  ramjDart  of  mountains  which  dominate  the  Guatemalan  seaboard 
presents  almost  exactly  the  same  geographical  conditions  throughout  its  whole 
extent,  and  here  the  zones  of  hot,  temperate,  and  cold  lands  follow  uniformly 
from  base  to  summit,  each  indicated  by  its  special  types  of  vegetation.  Above 
the  cold  zone  coinciding  with  the  edge  of  the  plateau  there  is  even  distinguished 
a  "  frozen  zone,"  that  of  the  higher  summits  snow-clad  for  a  short  period  of  the 
year.  This  highest  zone  is  uninhabitable,  and  the  same  might  almost  be  said  of 
the  lowest,  especially  for  European  settlers.  Here  the  mean  temperature  varies 
from  77°  to  82°  Fahr.,  while  the  glass  often  rises  even  to  10i°. 

The  two  intermediate  temperate  and  cold  zones,  the  former  suitable  for  the 
cultivation  of  the  banana,  sugar-cane,  and  coffee,  the  latter  for  cereals  and 
European  fruits,  comprise  by  far  the  greater  part  of  the  Guatemalan  territory, 
and  here  the  populations  of  European  or  mixed  origin  can  be  acclimatised.  The 
temperate  zone  especially,  which  lies  mainly  between  the  altitudes  of  1,600  and 
5,000  feet,  occupies  a  collective  area  of  considerable  extent.  In  other  words 
Guatemala  is_,  relativelj'  speaking,  far  more  favourably  situated  than  Mexico  for 
the  cultivation  of  economic  plants.  Its  ch;iracteristic  growth  is  the  banana,  the 
alimentary  plant  in  a  pie- eminent  sense,  which  here  flourishes  throughout  the 
whole  of  the  temperate  zone. 

Lying,  like  Mexico,  within  the  range  of  the  trade  winds,  Guatemala  is 
exposed  especially  to  the  north-east  currents,  which  pass  between  the  cones 
of  the  volcanoes  down  to  the  Pacific  seaboard.  But  these  regular  currents  are 
frequentlj'  deflected  from  their  normal  course,  and  then  the  fierce  iioiies  sweep 
from  the  uplands  down  to  the  low-lj'ing  valleys. 

The  rainfall  is  verj'  unevenly  distributed  over  the  different  regions  of 
Guatemala.  The  Atlantic  slope  is  natural!}'  the  most  abundantly  watered,  the 
prevailing  wind  being  charged  with  the  vapours  from  the  Gulf  of  Mexico  and 
Caribbean  Sea.  "  It  rains  thirteen  months  in  the  year,"  say  the  inhabitants  of 
Izabal.  But  the  Pacific  seaboard  has  also  its  share  of  humidity,  and  here  the 
temperate  lands  more  especially  receive  copious  downpours.  Here  the  wet  season 
lasts  .six  or  even  seven  months,  with  a  short  interrui^tion  in  the  month  of  August, 
due  to  the  fact  that  the  cortege  of  clouds  has  followed  the  sun  farther  north 
towards  the  Tropic  of  Cancer.  Even  during  the  dry  season  few  months  pass 
without  some  rain,  the  effect  of  which  on  the  growth  of  vegetation  is  magical  on 
these  rich  volcanic  lands.  Fogs  also  are  by  no  means  rare  at  this  period,  and 
contribute  to  support  plant  life.  The  mean  rainfall  has  been  recorded  only  for 
the  capital,  where  it  amounts  to  54  inches  On  the  lower  slopes  of  the  temperate 
zone  it  certainly  exceeds  SO  inches,  while  on  the  Quezaltenango  Altos  it  must  fall 
short  of  20  inches. 

In  its  natural   history  Guatemala   resembles   the  conterminous  j)rovinces  of 


East  Mexico — Chiapas,  Tabasco,  and  Yucatan.  In  its  forests  are  intcrnjingled 
various  species  of  oaks  and  conifers,  some  of  the  latter  growing  to  a  heiglit  of 
loO  or  160  feet.  In  many  regions  the  traveller  might  fancy  himself  transported 
to  the  pine-groves  of  the  Landes  in  Gascony,  or  else  to  the  Pomeranian  woodlands. 
On  the  low-lying  Pacific  seaboard  the  bamboo  grows  in  dense  thickets  to  a  height 
of  100  feet;  these  thickets,  which  wave  in  the  breeze  like  tall  cornfields,  are 
traversed  by  narrow,  gloomy  galleries  made  by  wild  beasts. 

As  in  Tabasco  the  giant  of  the  Guatemalan  forests  is  the  ceiha,  or  pyramidal 
bombax.  In  the  neighbourhood  of  their  settlements  the  Indians  of  the  plateaux 
and  escarpments  generally  clear  a  large  space  round  the  ceiba  to  give  it  ample 
room  for  the  development  of  its  wide-spreading  branches  and  rear  its  majestic 
form  more  imposingly  above  the  throng  of  worshippers  at  its  feet.  As  in  south 
Mexico  the  whole  surface  of  the  forest  is  interwoven  with  the  coils  of  lianas 
gliding  snake-like  from  tree  to  tree. 

In  Vera  Paz  the  enclosures  are  often  formed  by  a  species  of  arborescent 
thistle,  which  grows  rapidly  and  interlaces  its  stems  so  as  to  form  a  compact 
greyish  wall  carpeted  with  mosses  and  ferns  intermingled  with  the  large  foliage 
of  the  plant.  The  forests  of  the  hot  zones  near  Katalhulen,  as  well  as  those  of 
the  Polochic,  have  become  famous  for  their  magnificent  orchids.  Another 
remarkable  Guatemalan  jilant  is  well  known  to  the  Indians  for  the  heat  emitted 
by  its  efflorescence  at  the  moment  of  fertilisation.  Hence  its  rame  of  Jior  de  la 
cakiitura  ("fever  flower")  given  to  it  by  the  Spaniards. 

The  tapir,  peccary,  and  a  few  other  mammals  inhabit  the  Guatemalan  forests, 
where,  however,  no  special  forms  have  been  discovered  except  amongst  the  lower 
orders  of  animals.  The  alligator  and  some  thirty  species  of  fishes  in  Lake  Peten 
were  unknown  before  Morelet's  expedition.  Here  also  has  been  found  a  species 
of  trigonocephalus,  which  completes  the  smes  of  these  dangerous  snakes  between 
South  Carolina  and  Guiana. 

Vera  Paz  is  the  earthlj'  paradise  of  ornithologists ;  here  is  still  met  the 
wonderful  qiiezal,  or  "  resplendent  couroucou "  [trogon.  2>nroriiin.<<,  pliaromacnm 
paradmeus),  a  member  of  the  gallinaceous  faniil}',  with  an  emerald-green  silky 
plumage  dashed  with  a  golden  lustre  above,  with  a  lovely  purple  hue  below,  and 
a  tail  fully  three  feet  long.  The  Guatemalan  republic  has  chosen  this  bird  as  the 
national  emblem. 


The  common  Guatcmalo-Mexican  frontier  traverses  regions  whose  populations 
on  both  sides  have  the  same  origin  and  speak  the  same  languages.  Thus  the  Ma  j'as 
of  Yucatan  are  found  also  in  the  Peten  district ;  east  and  west  of  the  Usuraacinta 
the  Lacandons  have  their  camping  grounds ;  Chols,  Tzendals,  and  Mames  occupy 
the  heights  and  slopes  both  of  the  Guatemalan  Altos  and  of  Soconusco.  But 
central  and  east  Guatemala  are  inhabited  by  ethnical  groups  distinct  from  thcis3 
of  the  Mexican  republic.  Various  attempts  iiave  been  made  to  classify  these 
heterogeneous  populations  according  to  tlicir  afhuities,  usages,  and  languages  ;  but 



the  work  begun  by  Erinton,  Stoll,  and  others  is  still  far  from  complete,  and 
meantime  the  tribes  are  dis;ippearing,  and  several  languages  spoken  down  to  the 
present  century  are  now  extinct.     East  of  the  meridian  of  Lake  Amatitlan,  nearly 

Kg.  93  —  Landscape  nc  Socth  Guatemala— Bameoo  Jungle. 

^J^«fi*  !  !s"*^«=^  *2S=^^ 

all  the  Indians  have  already  become  Ladinos,  and  no  longer  speak  their  priiniiive 
tongues.  Nererthele-'ss,  according  to  Stoll,  as  many  as  eighteen  native  languages 
were  still  current  within  the  limits  of  the  republic  in  1883. 

The  Aztecs,  the  dominant  indigtnous  element  in  .Anahuac.  are   represented  in 


Guatemala  only  by  the  single  grouiD  of  the  Pipils,  -who  dwell,  not  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood of  the  Mexican  frontier  as  might  have  been  supposed,  but  in  the  eastern 
provinces  near  others  of  the  same  race,  settled  in  Salvador.  At  the  time  of  the 
conquest  the  Pij^ils  occupied  a  far  more  extensive  territory  than  at  present.  But 
their  domain  has  been  gradually  encroached  upon,  not  only  by  Spanish,  but  also 
by  the  spread  of  other  native- tongues,  such  as  the  Cakchiquel  and  Pokoman.  At 
present  the  Pipil  forms  two  separate  enclaves,  one  at  Salaraa  and  on  both  banks 
of  the  Motagiia  (Rio  Grande),  the  other  at  Escuintla  and  Cuajiniquilapa  in  the 
Guacalate  and  Michatoya  basins. 

Some  historians  regard  the  Pijnls  as  a  branch  of  the  fugitive  Toltecs  who 
migrated  southwards  after  the  overthrow  of  their  dominion  by  the  Chichitnecs,  and 
it  is  probable  enough  that  such  a  migration  may  have  taken  place  at  some  remote 
epoch.  Juarros  tells  us  that  Pipil  means  "  Children,"  and  that  the  people  were  so 
called  by  the  Mexicans  because  they  were  unable  to  speak  the  Nahuatl  language 
correctly.  But  according  to  another  interpretation  the  Pipils  of  Guatemala  and 
of  the  other  Central  American  republics  represent  the  ancient  Pipiltins,  that  is, 
the  "  superior  "  or  "  better,"  the  nobler  branch  of  the  Aztec  family.  This  name 
they  are  supposed  to  have  themselves  assumed  when  they  settled  amongst  the  less 
civilised  populations  south  of  Mexico. 

The  great  majority  of  the  Guatemalan  Indians  belong  to  the  same  .stock  as  that 
of  the  Huaxtecs  in  the  Vera  Cruz  uplands,  and  of  the  Mayas  dominant  in  Yucatan. 
All  the  populations  speaking  various  forms  of  the  common  language  are  collectively 
called  Maya-Quiche,  from  the  two  most  important  members  of  the  group,  the 
Mayas  of  the  Yucatan  plains  and  the  Quiches  of  the  Guatemalan  plateaux. 
Within  the  limits  of  the  latter  state  the  Mayas,  properly  so-culled,  occupy  an 
extensive  territory,  comprising  the  Petcn  district  and  nearly  the  whole  region 
bounded  southwards  by  the  Pasion  and  Mopan  rivers.  In  this  region  the  Maj'a 
nation  is  represented  by  the  Itzas,  one  of  the  very  purest  members  of  the  family. 
Thanks  to  their  isolation  in  the  petcii,  or  "  island,"  of  the  great  steppe  lake,  the 
Itzas  were  long  able  to  preserve  both  their  political  independence  and  the  puritj'  of 
their  race  and  national  usages.  The  Lacandons,  who  dwell  farther  west,  between 
Lake  Peten  and  the  Usumacinta  river,  are  also  a  pure  IMaya  people,  although 
frequently  called  "  Caribs  "  by  the  Spaniards  and  even  by  the  Mayas  themselves. 
Like  the  Itzas,  they  have  maintained  their  independence,  and  although  admitting 
strangers  into  their  country,  they  yield  obedience  to  no  one,  and  still  regard  them- 
selves as  masters  of  the  land.  However,  they  are  but  a  small  group,  scarcely 
numbering  more  than  4,000  or  5,000,  according  to  the  estimate  of  travellers  who 
have  visited  them.  They  are  described  as  an  anicniic  people,  "flabby  and  soft," 
which  should  perhajjs  be  attributed  to  their  mode  of  life  passed  entirely  in  the 
humid  atmosphere  of  dense  forests. 

The  Mopans,  who  are  met  in  scattered  groups  south  of  Lake  Peten  and  in  the 
upper  valley  of  the  Rio  Mopan  (Belize  river),  are  also  independent  Mayas, 
although  their  language  is  said  to  differ  from  that  of  the  Itzas  and  Lacandons. 
Their  southern  neighbours,  the   Chols,   that    is,   "  Men,"    who   roam    the  steppe 


between  tlio  Usumacinta  and  the  Golfo  Dulce,  belong  to  the  same  widespread  Maya 
family.  They  were  met  on  his  expedition  to  Honduras  by  Fernan  Cortes,  who 
was  able  to  converse  with  them  through  Dona  Marina,  she  being  acquainted  ^^  ith 
the  Chontal  dialect.  The  Chols  appear  to  have  been  one  of  the  most  civilised 
nations  in  the  region  now  known  as  Guatemala,  for  in  their  territory  are  situated 
the  fine  ruins  of  Quirigua.  But  they  are  greatly  reduced  in  numbers,  and  both 
people  and  language  seem  to  be  dying  out. 

Owing  to  the  former  slave-raiding  expeditions  of  the  Spaniards,  the  whole 
Atlantic  seaboard,  from  Yucatan  to  Xicaragua,  is  almost  entirely  destitute  of  a 
native  Indian  population.  After  the  extermination  of  the  Espanola  and  Cuban 
natives,  and  before  their  places  could  be  supplied  by  negroes  imported  from  Africa, 
the  planters  of  those  islands  sought  to  recruit  their  gangs  by  introducing  "  Caribs," 
that  is,  Indians  of  all  races,  whether  in  the  islands  or  on  the  mainland.  These 
so-called  Caribs  were  accused  of  cannibalism  and  of  every  other  crime  under  the 
sun,  and  could  consequently  be  enslaved  with  a  free  conscience.  Man-hunting 
expeditions  were  im^dertaken,  especially  along  the  coast  between  Capes  Catoche  and 
Gracias-a-Dios  ;  these  lands  were  completely  depopulated  in  a  very  few  decades, 
and  when  no  more  victims  remained,  the  raiders  had  to  ascend  the  rivers  and  lay 
waste  their  valleys  in  search  of  fresh  captives.  It  is  evident  from  Bemal  Diaz' 
descriptions  that  at  the  time  of  Cortes'  expedition  to  Honduras  the  shores  of  the 
Golfo  Dulce  were,  in  many  places,  lined  with  settlements  and  plantations. 

South  of  the  Choi  camping-grounds,  which  are  still  met  in  the  upper  valley  of 
the  Rio  de  la  Pasion,  the  district  about  the  headwaters  of  the  Polochic  is  occupied 
by  the  Quekchi  and  Pokonchi,  who  form  a  special  branch  of  the  Maya  family. 
Their  territory  was  formerly  known  by  the  name  of  Teztdutlau,  that  is,  "  Land  of 
War,"  because  the  Spaniards  made  frequent  expeditions  against  the  natives ; 
without,  however,  succeeding  in  reducing  them.  Their  submission  was,  in  fact, 
brought  about  by  the  celebrated  Bishop  of  Chiapas,  Bartholomew  de  las  Casas, 
and  the  Dominican  missionaries  who  soon  acquired  unlimited  power  over  the 
people.  Then  the  territory  changed  its  name  from  "  Land  of  War  "  to  Vera  Paz, 
"True  Peace."  But  although  they  thus  became  the  voluntary  serfs  of  the  Domi- 
nican friars,  the  Quekchi  and  Pokonchi  were,  after  all,  but  outward  converts,  and 
their  usages  still  recall  those  of  pagan  times. 

One  of  the  chief  indigenous  nations  is  that  of  the  Pokomans,  in  whose  territory 
the  present  capital  of  the  state  has  been  founded.  They  are  also  one  of  the  best- 
known  Guatemalan  tribes,  for  the  Indians  of  the  large  settlement  of  Mixco,  who 
suj)ply  the  capital  with  fuel  and  provisions,  are  all  Pokomans.  They  are  of  Maya 
stock,  and  display  the  same  remarkable  power  of  passive  resistance  and  tenacity 
as  other  branches  of  that  race.  They  have  gradually  encroached  on  the  Pipil 
domain,  dividing  that  nation  into  two  separate  section;  by  conquering  the  region 
of  the  main  Guatemalan  waterparting. 

The  (iuiches  were,  with  the  Aztecs  and  the  Mayas,  the  most  cultured  inhabi- 
tants of  Central  America  at  the  time  of  the  conquest.  At  that  epoch  they  were 
also  a  very  numerous  nation,  the  chronicles  speaking  of  "  several  millions."     They 


are  now  greatl}'  reduced,  though  still  occupying  nearly  the  same  territory  as 
when  Alvarado  first  attempted  to  subdue  them.  In  certain  districts,  notably  in 
that  of  Totonicapam,  they  still  energetically  resist  tbe  intrusion  of  the  Spanish 
tongue,  which,  how3ver,  as  the  officiil  language,  c:innot  fail,  sooner  or  later,  to 
prevail  in  the  towns,  if  not  in  the  rural  districts.  The  Quiche  linguistic  domain 
comprises  especially  the  region  of  the  Quezaltenango  and  Totonicupam  Altos; 
but  it  also  extends  north  and  north  east  towards  the  upper  Usuinacinta  and 
Motao-ua  basins,  while  southwards  it  re  iches  the  sea  along  the  Pacitic  slope  of  the 
main  range.  For  over  sixty  miles  it  holds  the  seaboard  south  of  Rstalulheu  and 
Mazatenango.  Quiche,  the  language  of  the  old  rulers  of  the  land,  is  one  of  the 
few  American  idioms  which  possess,  if  not  a  literature,  at  least  some  original 
documents.  The  Popol-  Vuh,  or  "  Book  of  History,"  written  by  an  unknown 
native  soon  after  the  conquest,  to  replace  another  national  history  which  had  been 
lost,  possesses  great  value  for  the  study  of  Central  American  myths  and  legends. 
It  was  translated  into  Spanish  at  the  beginning  of  the  eighteenth  century  by  the 
Dominican  friar,  Xiraeues,  and  afterwards  edited,  with  a  French  translation,  by 
Brasseur  de  Bourbourg. 

Cakchiquel,  which  is  spoken  on  the  plateau  from  Solola  to  Chimaltenango  and 
Antigua,  that  is,  in  the  zone  comprised  between  the  Quiche  and  Pokoraan  domains, 
is,  like  Quiche,  also  a  literary  language.  Brasseur  do  Bourbourg  has  described  a 
document  containing  the  history  of  the  Cakchiquel  nation  from  the  creation  of 
the  world,  and  in  several  passages  harmonising  with  the  Popol-  Yah.  Cakchiquel, 
Quiche,  and  Tzutujil,  whieh  last  is  spoken  in  a  small  enclave  south  of  Lake  Atit- 
lan,  are  described  by  Spanish  grammarians  as  the  "  three  metropolitan  languages," 
because  each  was  at  one  time  a  court  idiom  current  in  a  royal  residence.  All 
closeh'  resemble  each  other,  while  the  Mem,  or  Mame,  differs  greatly  from  Quiche, 
although  also  belonging  to  the  same  linguistic  stock.  This  language  of  "  Stam- 
merers," as  it  was  called  by  the  Quiches  and  Cakchiquels,  because  of  the  difhculty 
they  had  in  understanding  it,  prevails  throughout  all  the  western  districts  of 
Huehuetenango  and  San  Marcos,  as  well  as  in  the  Mexican  provinces  of  Soconusco 
and  Chiapas;  it  forms  a  distinct  group  with  Ixil,  Aguacatan,  and  perhaps  some 
other  dialects  spoken  by  the  little-known  tribes  of  the  upper  Usumacinta  basin. 

Nearly  all  the  native  languages  current  within  the  limits  of  Guatemala  belong 
to  the  Maya  stock.  Besides  those  already  mentioned,  almost  the  only  other 
exception  is  the  Carib,  which  still  survives  amongst  the  fishers  a>\d  woodmen,  who 
are  descended  from  the  West  Indian  Caribs  removed  by  the  English  to  the  main- 
land at  the  close  of  the  last  century.  Stoll  has  endeavoured  to  draw  up  a 
genealogical  tree  of  the  Maya  languages,  which  is  intended  to  show  the  order  of 
succession  in  which  the  various  members  branched  off  from  the  parent  stem.  The 
Huaxtecan  of  Vera  Cruz  would  appear  to  have  become  first  detached,  and  it  has 
diverged  all  the  more  that  to  the  modifications  introduced  by  time  have  been 
added  those  derived  from  a  totally  different  environment  surrounded  by  popula- 
tions of  totallj^  distinct  speech  and  usages.  Then  the  pircntstem  split  into  the 
two  great  Jfaya  and  (Juiche  divisions,  the  former  subsequently  throwing  off   the 


Mexican  branches  (Tzcndul,  Tzotzil  and  Choi),  while  Quiche  ramified  into  the 
various  Guatemalan  subdivisions  of  Pokoman,  Pokouchi,  Cakchiquel  and  modern 
Quiche  with  Ixil  and  Mame. 

The  pure  Indians,  who  constitute  over  two- thirds  of  the  whole  population, 
differ  little  in  their  physical  appearance,  to  whatever  linguistic  group  thej-  may 
belong.  The  Cakchiquels,  who  may  be  taken  as  typical  Guatemalan  Indians,  are 
of  average  or  low  stature,  but  stoutly  built,  with  clear  eye,  prominent  cheekbones, 
large  nose,  firm  mouth,  black,  lank  hair,  thick  eyebrows,  low  forehead,  somewhat 
depressed  by  the  strap  passed  round  the  head  to  support  their  loads.  They  never 
grow  grey,  and  preserve  to  old  age  their  well-set  dazzling  white  teeth  and  muscular 
frames,  which  never  put  on  too  much  flesh.  They  are  indefatigable  walkers,  and 
the  women  may  be  daily  seen  trudging  to  market,  doing  their  three  and  a  half 
miles  an  hour  under  loads  of  90  to  110  pounds,  with  the  baby  perched  on  the  hip. 
The  Guatemalan  Indians  are  much  addicted  to  the  practice  of  eating  an  edible 
earth  of  volcanic  origin,  of  a  j^ellowish-grey  colour  and  strong  smell,  which  is 
taken  as  an  accompaniment  or  appetiser.  Reference  is  alrec;"dy  made  to  this  habit 
in  the  Popol-  Vuh.  Christians  going  on  pilgrimages  also  eat  little  earthen  figures, 
which  they  obtain  at  the  holy  shrines,  and  which  are  supposed  to  heal  all  mala- 
dies. Gage  was  acquainted  with  two  Creole  ladies,  who  ate  "  handfuls  of  earth  " 
to  brighten  the  countenance.  The  natives  age  rapidly,  doubtless  owing  to  their 
extremely  monotonous  existence,  unrelieved  by  any  incidents  which  might  stimu- 
late curiosity  or  afford  food  for  reflection.  After  the  age  of  thirty  they  have 
passed  through  all  their  experiences,  and  nothing  further  rt mains  to  be  learned. 

Musical  gatherings  are  greatly  enjoyed  ;  the  least  pretext,  such  as  the  death 
of  a  child,  which  has  become  an  angel  in  heaven,  serves  to  get  up  festivities,  to 
which  everybody  is  invited.  The  natives,  and  especially  the  Mayas  of  Peten,  have 
a  delicate  ear  for  music,  and  in  this  respect  are  said  to  be  supe rior  to  the  Spaniards. 
The  Itzas  sing  in  perfect  tune,  and  even  vary  their  parts  with  much  originality  ; 
according  to  Morelet  their  songs  are  lively  and  bright,  very  different  from  the 
plaintive  melody  of  the  Ladinos.  The  same  traveller  believed  in  the  native  origin 
of  several  musical  instruments,  such  as  the  c/iiriiiu'i/a,  somewhat  like  a  clarionet, 
and  the  marimba,  a  series  of  vertical  wooden  tubes  formed  of  uneven  calabashes, 
which  are  disposed  like  those  of  a  reed-pipe,  pierced  at  the  lower  extremity  and  half 
shut  by  a  thin  membrane  ;  its  notes  are  said  to  be  more  powerful  than  those  of  the 
piano.  The  marimba,  however,  is  not  an  Indian  but  an  African  invention  ;  it  is 
widely  known  in  the  Niger  and  Congo  basins  and  as  far  south  as  Kaffraria.  Its 
name  is  of  liantu  origin,  and  it  was  doubtless  introduced  into  Central  America  by 
the  African  slaves. 

Although  more  fervent  Catholics  than  the  Ladinos,  the  Indians  have  none  the 
less  preserved  the  old  religion  under  a  new  form.  In  many  places  dolls  repre- 
senting the  gods  of  their  forefathers  are  hidden  under  the  altars  of  the  churches, 
and  by  this  device  both  divinities  are  simultaneously  worshipped.  When  kneeling 
before  Saint  Michael  they  light  two  tapers,  one  for  the  dragon,  the  other  for  the 
archangel.    An  old  deity  corresponds  to  each  personage  of  the   Christian  religion, 



the  suu  to  God  the  Father,  the  moon  to  the  Madonna,  the  stars  to  the  tutelar 
saints.  Most  of  the  Indians  think  there  are  two  gods,  one  of  whom,  the  D/o-v  de 
la  Monttthd,  "  God  of  the  Forest,"  attends  specially  to  the  aborigines,  taking  no 
notice  either  of  the  Ladinos  or  of  the  whites.  He  is  often  called  Diuho  dd  Palo, 
"  Lord  of  the  Tree,"  because  he  dwells  in  the  ceibas,  and  to  the  foot  of  these 
gigantic  trees  in  the  forest   clearings  are  brought  the  firstfruits  of  the  harvest 

Fig.  94. — Natite  Populations  op  Gxiatemala. 
Scale  1  :  4,500,000. 


West  oF  Greenwict- 

CO  Miles. 

and  the  chase.  The  earth  also  is  wor.shipped,  but  feared  as  representing  the  prin- 
ciple of  evil. 

In  every  village  the  natives  are  grouped  in  coiifradiux,  or  "  brotherhoods," 
which  are  evidently  organised  on  the  model  of  the  old  Aztec  calpuUL  Each  has 
its  tutelar  saint,  who  is  feted  with  much  pomp,  the  male  and  female  "  captains  " 
collecting  the  money  required  for  the  costumes,  mu-ic,  tajjers  and  decorations. 
Sometimes  this  costly  worship  plunges  the  whole  community  into  debt  for  months 
together,  but  the  saint  is  only  all  the  more  highly  esteemed. 

Mimetic  dances  represent  mv-thological  or  historical  dramas  of  Indian  origin, 


but  since  the  arrival  of  the  Spaniards  more  or  less  modified  by  tne  addition  of  new 
legends.  Thus  in  the  "  Moors'  dance  "  the  chief  personages  are  Charlemagne  and 
Tamerlane.  There  are  also  the  "  negroes'  ball,"  and  even  the  "  dance  of  the 
conquest,"  the  performers  on  these  occasions  -wearing  wooden  masks  and  fantastic 
garbs  of  leaves  or  herbage,  and  exciting  themselves  to  a  pitch  of  frenzy.  Such 
is  the  passion  and  fury  of  these  Bacchanalian  dancers  that  one  easily  realises  the 
ancient  religious  ceremonies,  when  the  devotees  fell  on  the  palpitating  bodies  of 
the  victims  and  devoured  their  flesh. 

Conscious  of  the  strength  derived  from  numbers,  and  even  miadful  of  the  evils 
brought  on  them  by  servitude,  the  Indians  have  kept  aloof  from  the  Ladinos,  and 
have  often  taken  advantage  of  the  local  revolutions  to  rise  i:i  revolt  against  their 
oppressors.  In  1838,  an  Indian  army,  under  Eafael  Carrera,  penetrated  victoriously 
into  the  capital,  proclaiming  that  they  had  been  "  raised  up  by  the  Virgin  Mary 
to  kill  the  whites,  foreigners  and  heretics."  But  in  their  very  triumphs  they  had  to 
feel  the  ascendency  of  the  more  civilised  Ladinos,  with  whom  they  are  brought 
yearly  more  and  more  into  contact.  As  the  term  "white"  is  sometimes  applied 
to  the  Ladinos,  who  are  all  of  mixed  origiu,  many  of  the  rural  populations  are  in 
the  same  way  regarded  as  pure  Indians  though  they  also  have  a  strain  of  foreign 
blood.  On  the  plantations  crossings  continually  take  place  between  the  ruling  class 
and  their  serfs,  and  the  black  slaves  originally  introduced  by  the  Dominican  friars 
to  cultivate  their  lands  have  also  contributed  to  this  mixture  of  races.  Pure 
negroes  can  scarcely  any  longer  be  found  in  Guatemala,  although  their  metre  or 
less  modified  features  may  be  recognised  in  whole  pomdations. 


The  Guatemalan  population  is  grouped  chiefly  in  the  cold  and  temperate  lands 
of  the  Pacific  coast  range.  All  towns  of  any  importance  are  situated  on  the  high 
grounds  between  the  coastlands  and  the  upper  Motagua  and  Usumacinta  valleys. 
Near  the  Mexican  frontier  the  first  town  on  the  plateau  is  San  Marcos,  which  lies 
in  the  cold  zone  on  an  eminence  whence  is  commanded  a  wide  prospect  of  the  sur- 
rounding coffee  plantations.  On  a  neighbouring  plain  stands  the  native  town  of 
Sail  Pedro  Sacalepeqncs,  whose  inhabitants  no  longer  speak  Mame,  the  old  language 
of  West  Guatemala.  By  a  recent  decree  they  have  been  declared  Ladinos,  which 
has  the  consequence  of  allowing  them  more  freedom  in  the  administration  of  their 
local  affairs.  The  natural  outlet  of  San  Marcos  and  its  plantations  is  the  Ocas 
estuary  some  50  miles  towards  the  south-west.  On  this  part  of  the  coast  the  plains 
are  vast  low-lying  savannas,  often  under  water,  dotted  over  with  permanent 
lagoons  and  forest  tracts.  In  April  the  traders  and  planters  from  Soconusco,  in 
Z^Iexico,  and  from  west  Guatemala  assemble  at  this  place  for  the  transaction  of 
business.  The  Ocos  estuary  was  Ions  resarded  as  the  frontier  between  Mexico 
and  Guatemala.  West  of  the  port,  which  is  open  to  foreign  trade,  the  frontier 
station  has  been  fixed  at  the  village  of  Ayuila,  a  place  of  pilgrimage  much  fre- 
quented by  the  Soconusco  Indians. 




About  30  miles  south-east  of  Siin  Marcos,  Quezaltenanrjo,  second  capital  of  tlie 
republic  and  chief  town  of  the  Altos,  occupies  an  extensive  space,  7,740  feet  above 
the  sea,  on  a  hilly  plateau  south  of  which  rises  the  still  smoking  Cerro  Quemado. 
In  1838  this  place  was  the  capital  of  a  state  which  comprised  the  three  eastern 
provinces  of  Totonicapara,  Quezaltenango,  and  Solola.  The  houses  are  built  of 
lava  blocks  quarried  at  the  foot  of  the  volcano.  The  small  industries  are  repre- 
sented by  woollen  and  cotton  weavers,  dyers  and  leather-dressers.  A  speciality 
of  the  Quiche  artisans  is  the  preparation  of  gold-embroidered  mantles,  feather  hats 
and  the  masks  used  by  the  natives  in  their  dances,  processions,  and  scenic  per- 

Fig.  95. — The  Axtos  Region. 

Scale  1  :  1,100,000. 

•-^  -^^J-      ~h>^'    Jf^ 

.^f-J,-^  -I/rf^    ,Sf»  ,p, 

9r50'  '  V  e-it  oh  Greenwich 

.  18  Miles. 

formancos  Probably  from  this  feather  industry  the  city  took  its  Mexican  name  of 
Quezaltenango,  which  means  "  Green-Feather  Town,"  not,  as  is  often  asserted, 
"  Town  of  the  Quezal  Birds,"  a  species  which  is  not  found  in  the  district.  In  the 
capital  of  the  Altos  region  reside  most  of  the  great  landowners,  whoso  estates 
cover  the  Costa  Guca  slopes  facing  the  P.icific  ;  here  also  dwell  the  traders  and  the 
moneylenders,  who  are  the  real  masters  of  the  land. 

They  prefer  this  salubrious  place  to  Rctalhuku,  which,  although  lying  much 
nearer  to  tbe  zone  of  plantations,  is  one  of  the  most  unhealthy  towns  in  Guatemala. 
Eetalhulcu,  that  is,  the  "  Signal,"  stands  at  an  elevation  of  not  more  than  1,360 
feet,  that  is,  in  the  very  heart  of  the  hot  lands  under  a  climate  with  a  mean  tem- 
perature of  82°  to  84*^  Fahr.  It  is  a  very  ancient  market,  probably  founded  by  the 
Quiche  kings  to  procure  a  sufficient  supply  of  cacao  and  cotton.     Cacao,  which 


was  formerly  the  chief  crop,  has  recently  been  replaced  by  coffee  and  the  alimen- 
tary plants  required  by  the  hands  employed  on  the  plantations.  Hence  the  neigh- 
bouring port  of  Champerico,  which  is  connected  by  rail  with  Retalhuleu,  now  exports 
little  except  coffee.  Being  a  hotbed  of  fever  in  the  rainy  season,  «Champerieo  is 
scarcely  inhabited  except  in  the  dry  period,  and  especially  in  April  and  Xo%ember, 
when  the  skippers,  nearly  all  from  the  United  States,  come  for  their  cargoes  of 

Totonicapam  stands  on  the  same  plateau  as  Quezaltenango,  twelve  mUes  more 
to  the  north-east,  but  in  a  colder  climate,  at  an  altitude  of  8,200  feet,  that  is,  460 
higher  than  its  neighbour  and  660  higher  than  Mexico.  Its  inhabitants  are  chiefly 
Quiche  Indians,  who  still  mostly  speak  the  national  language,  and  who,  so  far  from 
considering  themselves  inferior  to  the  Ladinos,  constitute,  on  the  contrary,  a  sort  of 
local  aristocracy.  Many,  in  fact,  descend  from  the  old  "  caciques  "  of  Tlaxcala  who 
accompanied  Alvarado  on  his  expedition,  and  who  in  return  for  their  services 
received  special  class  privileges  together  with  exemption  from  taxation.  The  best 
dwellings  in  the  town  belong  to  these  Tlaxcalans.  Like  the  neighbouring  capital, 
Totonicapam  is  an  industrial  centre,  producing  textiles,  earthenware,  furniture, 
guitars,  marimbas,  and  other  musical  instruments.  Sahraja,  a  few  miles  to  the 
south-west,  although  now  an  obscure  village,  was  at  one  time  a  place  of  some  note. 
It  was  the  first  settlement  founded  by  Alvarado  in  1524,  and  its  church,  dedicated 
to  the  Virgin  of  Victory,  became  a  famous  place  of  pilgrimage.  Afterwards  most 
of  its  inhabitants  removed  to  Quezaltenango.  Between  these  two  towns  flows  the 
Olintepec  brook,  called  by  the  natives  XiquigU,  or  "  Bloody  River,"  to  comme- 
morate the  day  when  it  flowed  with  the  blood  of  thousands  of  Quiches  massacred 
by  Alvarado  in  the  decisive  battle  which  made  him  master  of  the  land. 

Another  historic  place  is  Santa  Cruz  Quiche,  or  simply  Quiche,  which  still  bears 
the  name  of  the  nation  whose  capital  it  was,  but  which  is  now  almost  exclusively 
inhabited  by  Ladinos.  It  stands  at  an  altitude  of  6,220  feet,  about  25  miles  north- 
east of  Totonicapam  on  a  plain  of  the  temperate  zone  watered  by  the  headstreams 
of  the  Rio  Grande  (Motagua).  This  plain  is  enclosed  by  deep  barrancas  separat- 
ing it  from  the  terraces  on  which  stood  the  monuments  of  Utatlnn,  residence  of  the 
ancient  Quiche  kings.  Surrounded  by  precipices  over  1,300  feet  high  on  the  soiith 
side,  the  terrace  of  the  Acropolis  presents  a  nearly  level  surface  for  about  a  third 
of  a  mile  in  all  directions,  and  is  connected  w^th  the  neighbouring  heights  by  a 
precipitous  track  which  was  formerly  defended  by  strong  fortresses.  The  palace 
of  Utatlan,  said  by  the  chroniclers  to  have  rivalled  that  of  Montezuma  in  size, 
was  spacious  enough  to  contain  a  whole  population  of  women,  servants  and 
soldiers  ;  the  school  contained  over  5,000  children  educated  at  the  charge  of  the 
sovereign,  and  when  this  potentate  mustered  his  forces  on  the  terrace  to  oppose 
the  advance  of  the  Spaniards,  he  is  said  to  have  passed  in  review  as  many  as  72,000 
combatants.  The  pyramid  known  as  the  Sacrificatorio  still  presents  a  somewhat 
regular  contour,  and  preserves  the  traces  of  steps.  Beyond  the  citadel,  the  slopes 
of  the  hiUs,  the  surrounding  heights  and  plains  are  strewn  for  a  vas!^  space  with  the 
ruins  of  edifices  now  for  the  most  part  overgrown  with  vegetation.     The   excava- 



tions  made  at  various  times  have  brought  to  light  statues,  bas-reliefs,  and  much 
decorative  work.  South-eastwards  on  the  verge  of  the  plateau  stands  the  healthy 
town  of  San  Toiiins  Chichicadenango,  which  is  still  inhabited  by  the  descendants 
of  the  ancient  Quiche  nobility :  it  was  here  that  the  Dominican,  Xinienez,  made 
the  lucky  find  of  the  Popol-Vuh,  or  "Book  of  Myths." 

West  of  Quiche,  the  chief  headstreams  of  the  Motagua  intermingle  with  those 
of  the  Usumacinta,  in  the  department  of  Huehuetenango,  one  of  the  most  sparsely 
peopled  in  the  republic.  IIiiehHctcnango  {Guegucfenango),  that  is,  "  City  of  the 
Ancients,"  has  also  replaced  an  old  Indian  town,  Zakuica,  ov  "White  Earth," 
which  is  said  to  have  been  the  capital  of  the  Mame  nation.  The  modern  town 
lies  in  tha  temperate  zone,  and  in  a  fertile  district  yielding  both  European  aad 
tropical  fruits,  and  watered  by  a  stream  descending  from  the  north-west  to  the 
Grijalva.  In  the  neighbourhood  is  the  flourishing  town  of  Chiantin,  whose 
convent,  enriched  by  the  offerings  of  multitudes  of  pilgrims,  was  formerly  one  of 
the  wealthiest  in  the  New  World.  Argentiferous  lead-mines,  now  no  longer 
worked,  also  contributed  to  the  opulence  of  the  Dominican  friars  of  this  district. 

On  the  upper  Chixoy,  which  is  the  m  liu  headstream  of  the  Usumacinta,  the 
only  town  is  the  Quiche  settlement  of  Sacapu/as,  which  crowns  an  eminence  3,840 
feet  high,  on  the  right  bank,  a  short  distance  below  the  Rio  Negro  and  Rio  Blanco 
confluence.  Immediately  below  the  town  numerous  thermal  springs  flow  directly 
from  the  granite  cliffs,  at  temperatures  varying  from  104°  to  158°  Fahr.  They 
are  both  saline  and  bitter,  somewhat  like  seawater  in  taste,  which  is  due  to  the 
simultaneous  presence  of  sodium  chloride  and  sulphate  of  magnesia.  Other 
springs  flowing  farther  east,  although  less  saline,  are  more  utilised  by  the  natives 
in  the  preparation  of  salt.  The  chief  salt  pan  is  at  present  that  of  Mngdalenci, 
about  ten  miles  north-west  of  Sacapulas,  beyond  some  steep  intervening  cliffs. 
Here  two  copious  streams,  one  yielding  over  twenty  gallons  a  second,  and  contain- 
ing four  per  cent,  of  pure  salt,  flow  from  the  foot  of  a  hill,  which  was  formerly 
forest- clad,  but  which,  since  the  opening  of  the  works,  has  become  completely 

Sulamn,  capital  of  the  department  of  Baja  Vera  Paz,  is  also  situated  in  the 
upper  Usumacinta  basin,  on  an  eastern  tributary  of  the  Chixoy,  2,865  feet 
above  sea-level,  consequently  quite  within  the  tropical  zone.  San  Gcronhno,  an 
old  Dominican  establishment  a  few  miles  east  of  Salama,  has  become  the  centre 
of  a  flourishing  sugar  plantation,  the  produce  of  which  is  exported  far  and  wide, 
despite  the  difficult  communications.  This  Vera  Paz  region,  which,  for  several 
years  after  the  arrival  of  the  Spaniards  was  known  as  the  "  Land  of  War,"  contains 
numerous  ruins  of  large  cities,  now  overgrown  with  rank  vegetation.  Purblo 
Viejo,  or  the  "  Old  Town,"  which  stands  on  the  slopes  above  Sm  Geronitno, 
occupies  the  site  of  the  ancient  Xtibabal.  Rahinal  lies  farther  west  on  an  affluent 
of  the  Chixoy,  surrounded  by  banana,  orange,  and  sugar  plantations,  in  a  district 
dotted  over  with  numerous  old  sejiulchral  mounds.  Northwards  are  seen  the 
ruins  of  a  fortress,  and  about  six  miles  to  the  north-west  the  remains  of  Nim- 
Pokom,  formerly  a  capital  of  the  Pokoman  nation,  and  traditionally  said  to  have 



contaiaed  100,000  iuhabitants.  The  ruius  occupy  a  considerable  space  on  tbe 
crest  of  a  hill ;  but  the  Pokoman  language  has  been  driven  farther  east  by  Quiche, 
the  idiom  of  the  people  who,  before  the  arrival  of  the  Spaniards,  had  gradually 
acquired  the  political  ascendency.  Nearly  all  the  summits  in  the  Eabinal 
district  are  crowned  with  ancient  strongholds,  now  overgrown  by  a  luxuriant 
vegetation,  while  the  Pakalah  valley,  facing  the  confluence  of  the  Rabinal  and 
Chixoy  rivers,  is  occupied  by  the  temples,  palaces,  and  citadels  of  Cahuinal,  form- 
ing the  finest  group  of  ruins  in  Tera  Paz. 

The  towns  situated  on  the  plateaux  and  heights  to  the  east  of  Quezaltenango 
and  Totonicapam,  although  still  standing  at  a  great  elevation  above  the  sea,  are 
not  regarded  as  belonging  to  the  region  of  the  Altos.       Solola,  which  has  given 

Fig.  96. — Solola  axd  Lake  Atitlax. 


^  --r^/-  ' ' 


its  name  to  one  of  the  departments  of  the  republic,  lies  at  an  elevation  of  7,000 
feet  on  a  terrace  terminating  towards  Lake  Atitlan  in  a  rocky  peak  which  rises 
to  a  height  of  nearly  2,000  feet.  Two  deep  ravines  on  the  right  and  left  sides 
give  to  the  terrace  the  aspect  of  a  superb  promontory,  entirely  detached  from 
the  rest  of  the  plateau  except  on  the  north  side.  Beyond  the  last  houses  of 
Solola  is  seen  the  rampart  of  walls  and  huge  blocks  piled  up  and  cemented  with 
an  argillaceous  mortar  without  apparent  tenacity.  Thus  the  vast  ruin  seems  as 
if  about  to  fall  with  a  crash  into  the  blue  lake,  which  is  enclosed  on  the  north  by 
steep  cliffs,  on  the  south  by  gently-sloping  green  banks,  rising  in  a  succession  of 
graceful  curves  towards  the  Atitlan  volcano.  A  path  cut  at  sharp  angles  in  the 
tufas  and  rocks  of  the  escarpment  leads  from  Solola  to  the  margin  of  the  lake, 
and  to  the  village  of  Paiiajachef,  whose  name   is  sometimes  extended  to  the  basin 


itse'f.  Solola,  ancieut  capital  of  the  Cakchiquels,  and  still  iuhabited  by  the 
descendants  of  these  proud  and  industrious  Indians,  bears  also  the  name  of  Tecpan- 
Atitlati,  or  "  Communal  Palace  of  Atitlan,"  in  contradistinction  to  the  Afiilan  of 
the  Ladinos.  This  place  lies  on  the  opposite  or  south  side  of  the  lake,  and  was 
formerly  capital  of  the  Tzutujil  nation,  whose  language  still  survives  in  the 

An  easy  pass,  lying  between  the  Atitlan  and  San  Pedro  volcanoes,  leads  down 
to  the  rich  plantations  of  Costa  Grande,  which  cover  the  lower  slopes  of  the 
mountains.  But  Tecojate,  the  nearest  seaport,  being  too  dangerous  for  shipping, 
the  produce  is  mostly  exported  through  Champerico.  A  road  partly  accessible 
to  wheeled  traffic  runs  from  the  shores  of  Lake  Atitlan  through  Mazntenango  to 
Ectalhuleii.  The  coffee  grown  in  the  Mazatenango  district  is  one  of  the  most 
appreciated  in  the  European  market. 

On  the  lofty  piLite  lus  separating  the  basin  of  Lake  Atitlan  from  that  of  the 
Rio  Mofagua  are  seen  the  remains  of  one  of  the  numerous  cities  which  bore  the 
name  of  Quauldeinalan,  or  Guatemala,  a  name  afterwards  extended  to  the  whole 
region.  The  city,  which  was  the  capital  of  the  Cakchiquels,  and  which  they 
called  Iximche,  has  a  circumference  of  "  three  leagues."  It  stood  on  a  terrace 
encircled  on  all  sides  by  precipices,  and  accessible  onlj^  by  one  approach,  whose 
two  gateways  were  each  closed  by  a  single  block  of  obsidian.  The  Spanish 
conqueror  Alvarado  made  it  his  residence  in  152-i,  and  gave  it  the  name  of 
Santiago.  A  second  Guatemala,  standing  on  a  terrace  near  the  Iximche  plateau, 
is  distinguished  by  the  epithet  of  Tecpan-Gantcmala,  or  "  Communal  Palace  of 
Guatemala."  About  eighteen  miles  farther  east,  on  a  terrace  overlooking  the 
Motagua  valley,  are  seen  the  still  more  famous  ruins  of  Mixco. 

Cliiinaltenango  is  at  present  the  capital  of  the  department  of  like  name,  a  region 
roughly  coinciding  with  the  ancient  domain  of  the  Cakchiquels.  It  stands  at  a  height 
of  about  6,000  feet  exactly  on  the  waterparting  between  the  Atlantic  and  Pacific 
near  the  northern  extremity  of  the  chain  of  volcanoes  which  terminates  southwards 
in  the  Fuego  peak.  For  trading  purposes,  it  lies  in  the  zone  served  by  the  railway 
which  runs  from  Guatemala  to  Escuintla  and  San  Jose.  Between  Chimaltenango 
and  Guatemala,  but  nearer  to  the  latter  place,  is  situated  the  present  Indian 
village  of  Mixco,  to  which  were  removed  the  captives  taken  at  the  surrender  of  the 
old  city  of  this  name.  The  first  Guatemala  of  Spanish  foundation,  which  succeeded 
the  two  others  of  Cakchiquel  origin,  is  the  place  now  known  as  Ciudad  Vieja,  or 
"  Old  Town."  It  was  founded  in  1527  by  Alvarado,  in  the  picturesque  Admolonga 
valley  on  the  banks  of  the  Rio  Pensativo,  which  flows  through  the  Guacalate  to 
the  Pacific.  It  would  have  been  difficult  to  choose  a  more  delightful  situation 
with  a  more  equable  and  milder  climate,  a  more  fertile  and  better-watered  soil, 
or  more  romantic  scenery,  than  this  upland  valley  between  the  Fuego  and  Agua 
volcanoes.  Yet  the  city  lasted  only  seventeen  years.  In  1541,  after  long  rains, 
the  edge  of  the  flooded  crater  of  Mount  Agua,  dominating  the  rising  town,  suddenly 
gave  way,  and  nearly  all  the  inhabitants,  amongst  whom  was  Alvarado's  wife,  Dona 
Bcatriz  Sin  Ventura,  the  "Hapless,"  were  either  drowned  or  crushed  beneath  the 



ruins.  Nothing  remained  except  a  magnificent  tree,  under  whose  shade  the 
Spaniards  had  assembled  before  the  building  of  the  city.  Ilts  site  is  at  present 
occupied  by  a  few  little  houses  lost  amid  the  surrounding  plantations.  To  avoid 
another  such  disaster — which,  however,  could  not  have  been  repeated  in  the  same 
■way — it  was  decided  to  remove  the  town  farther  north,  and  in  1542  Alvarado 
supervised  the  foundation  of  a  second  capital — Santiago  de  hs  Caballeros  la  Nueva, 
the  "  new,"  but  now  called  Antigua,  the  "  ancient,"  to  distinguish  it  from  the 
modern  Guatemala.  The  city  flourished  to  such  an  extent  that  in  a  few  j^ears  it 
became  the  most  populous  place  in  Central  America,   and  this  despite  a  succession. 

Fig.  97. — SircCESsrTE  Dispiacesients  of  Guateiuxa. 

Scale  1  :  750,000- 

k-::  , 

3  0"- 







12  Miles. 

of  storms,  floods,  earthquakes,  and  epidemic*.  Its  inhabitants,  remarked  Gage, 
dwell  between  "  two  mountains  which  hold  their  ruin  in  suspense :  the  Agua 
volcano  threatens  them  with  the  deluge,  and  Fuego  opens  to  them  one  of  hell's 
gates."  The  people  had  many  a  time  made  every  preparation  for  flight,  and 
then,  the  danger  over,  had  done  nothing  but  repair  their  dwellings,  when  nearly 
all  the  buildings  were  overthrown  by  the  terrific  earthquakes  of  1773. 

At  last  it  was  decided  to  select  a  third  site  for  the  capital,  and  choice  was 
made  of  the  hamlet  of  Ermita  on  the  elevated  Las  Vacas  plateau,  about  25  miles 
farther  to  the  north-east.  The  work  of  reconstruction  began  immediately  after 
the  disaster  that  had  overtaken  Antigua,  but  the  official  transfer  was  not  made  till 
the  vear  1779.  The  first  house  of  Guatemahi,  the  hacienda  de  la  Virffen,  still 
exists,  aud  is  pointed  out  to   strangers  as  a   historic   monument.     Nevertheless, 


Antigua  was  never  completely  abandoned,  and  it  now  ranks  for  size  as  tlie  fiflli 
city  of  the  republic.  The  population  even  continues  to  increase,  its  thermal  waters 
attract  numerous  invalids,  the  inhabitants  of  Guatemala  have  their  country  resi- 
dences hei'e,  and  many  of  the  demolished  structures  have  been  rebuilt. 

This  third  Guatemala,  at  present  the  largest  city  of  Central  America,  lies  on  a 
gentle  slope  in  a  depression  of  the  plateau  about  5,000  feet  above  the  sea  on  the 
divide  between  the  two  oceans.  Guatemala  is  dominated  by  a  little  porjjhj'ry 
eminence,  the  Cerro  del  Carmen,  where  stands  the  old  hermitage,  whence  the  place 
takes  the  nams  of  Ermita  still  in  use  amongst  the  Cakchiquels.  From  this  knoll 
a  view  is  commanded  of  the  whole  city,  which  covers  a  considerable  space.  The 
surrounding  landscape  is  unattractive  owing  to  the  absence  of  trees  on  the  scrubby 
watershed  of  Las  Vacas,  or  the  "  Cows,"  which  throughout  the  Spanish  occupation 
has  been  used  as  a  cattle  ranche.  But  the  vast  panorama  stretching  bej'ond  this 
district,  and  limited  southwards  bj'  the  two  lofty  volcanic  cones,  presents  a  superb 
prospect :  no  other  capital  occupies  a  more  marked  central  and  commanding  position 
over  the  region  sloping  in  all  directions  at  its  feet.  Guatemala,  which  is  laid  out 
with  the  perfect  regularity  of  a  model  city,  presents  in  the  interior  a  somewhat 
monotonous  aspect.  According  to  the  original  municipal  regulations,  inspired  by 
the  memor}'  of  the  disasters  that  had  overtaken  Antigua,  the  builders  were  for- 
bidden to  erect  any  houses  exceeding  20  feet  in  height,  and  although  this  law  is 
no  longer  observed,  the  churches  having  here  as  elsewhere  their  domes  and  belfries, 
most  of  the  structures  are  very  low,  gaining  horizontally  what  they  lose  vertic  ill\'. 
Hence  the  population  is  somewhat  scattered,  except  in  the  suburbs,  where  every 
narrow  cabin  is  occupied  by  an  Indian  family.  Tcjwards  the  middle  of  the  century, 
when  it  was  scarcely  half  its  present  size,  travellers  were  wont  to  compare  Guate- 
mala to  a  city  of  tombstones.  Formerly  all  the  large  buildings  were  convents  or 
churches.  Now  the  Jesuits'  establishment  has  been  transformed  to  a  national 
iastitution  with  an  observatory.  The  city  also  possesses  a  polytechnic  and  other 
schools,  learned  societies,  libraries  and  a  museum.  But  the  industries  only  suffice 
to  supply  the  local  wants,  and  provisions  are  mostly  brought  from  the  surrounding 
villages  and  plantations  on  the  Pacific  slope.  Water  is  also  brought  from  a  con- 
siderable distance  by  the  two  aqueducts  of  Mixco  and  Pinula.  On  the  plateau 
itself,  covered  with  volcanic  scoriae  in  some  places  to  the  depth  of  600  or  700  feet, 
the  rain  water  is  rapidly  absorbed,  reappearing  lower  down  in  remote  valleys. 
But  to  this  very  circumstance,  preventing  the  accumulation  of  stagnant  waters, 
Guatemala  probably  owes  its  complete  immunity  from  the  ravages  of  typhus. 
Still  the  place  is  not  very  healthy,  and  all  maladies  affecting  the  respiratory  organs 
are  aggravated  by  the  clouds  of  dust  raised  by  every  breeze  from  the  loose  igneous 
soil.  Hence  most  of  the  well-to-do  citizens  remove  during  the  dry  season  to  some 
umbrageous  ru,ral  retreat  :  the  most  fashionable  places  at  present  are  the  towns  and 
villages  situated  farther  south  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Antigua. 

The  railway  descending  from  Guatemala  towards  the  Pacific  branches  off  from 
the  valley  of  Antigua  southwards  in  the  direction  of  Lake  Amatitlan,  which  it 
skirts  on  the  west  side.     The  town  of  Aitiatiflan,  situated  on  the  lake  at  the  outlet 



rails  and  cranes  for  the  convenience  of  barges  in  connection  with  the  shipping 
which  has  to  ride  at  anchor  over  half  a  mile  from  the  port. 

The  department  of  Santa  Rosa,  conterminous  on  the  east  with  Amatitlan 
and  Escuintla,  has  no  large  towns ;  its  only  trading  station  is  CuaJiniqHiliijjd, 
which  lies  on  the  highway  from  San  Salvador  on  the  west  side  of  the  deep 
valley  of  the  Rio  de  los  Esclavos,  so  called  from  the  "  Slaves,"  that  is,  the  Sinca 
people  occupying  its  banks.  The  broad  stream  is  here  crossed  by  an  eleven-arched 
brido-e,  built  in  the  seventeenth  century  by  the  Spaniards,  and  regarded  as  the 
finest  monument  of  Central  America.  At  the  south-east  extremity  of  the  republic 
stretches  the  pastoral  and  agricultural  department  of  Jutiapa,  with  chief  town  of 
like  name.  This  region  is  yearly  increasing  in  importance  for  its  exports  of  live 
stock,  indigo,  and  other  produce  to  the  neighbouring  state.  A  few  other  centres 
of  population  have  assumed  a  somewhat  urban  aspect  in  the  eastern  districts  of 
Guatemala  comprised  within  the  Motagua  basin.  Such  is  Jalapa,  which  stands 
at  an  altitude  of  5,600  feet  in  an  upland  valley  of  great  fertility.  The  town  of 
E'fqiiipiilas,  also  on  an  affluent  of  the  Motagua,  but  near  a  pass  leading  down  to  the 
sources  of  the  Lempa  in  San  Salvador,  is  for  the  greater  part  of  the  year  almost 
deserted,  except  by  a  scattered  community  of  about  2,000  Indians.  But  on 
January  15th,  feast  of  Nuestro  Sefior  de  Esquipulas,  a  vast  crowd  throngs  the 
streets  and  squares  lined  with  temporary  huts.  The  sick  and  afflicted  bend  the 
knee  before  a  black  effigy  of  Christ,  with  votive  offerings  of  silver,  carved 
wooden  objects,  feather  and  straw  work.  "With  the  religious  feast  is  combined  a 
fair,  which  down  to  the  middle  of  the  century,  before  the  construction  of  the 
Panama  railway,  was  frequented  by  pilgrim  traders  from  Guatemala,  Salvador, 
and  even  Mexico.  As  many  as  80,000  persons,  we  are  told  by  Juarros,  were  at 
times  assembled  on  the  plain  of  Esquipulas.  Near  the  town  stands  one  of  the 
most  magnificent  churches  in  Central  America.  In  a  neighbouring  southern 
valley  are  worked  the  Alotepeque  silver  mines,  the  most  productive  in  the  state. 

On  the  stream  flowing  from  Esquipulas  northwards  to  the  Rio  Motagua  lie  the 
towns  of  Chiqiiimala  and  Zacnpn,  both  capitals  of  departments  of  like  name,  and 
destined  to  acquire  considerable  importance  in  the  future  development  of  the 
country.  They  stand  on  the  route  to  be  followed  by  one  of  the  projected  railways 
between  Guatemala  and  Puerto  Barrios  on  the  Atlantic.  About  midway  between 
the  two  the  Copan  River  joins  that  of  Esquipulas  after  watering  the  plains  of 
Comotan  and  Jocofan,  formerly  centres  of  the  cochineal  and  indigo  industries,  now 
surrounded  by  rich  tobacco  plantations.  About  six  miles  below  Zacaj)a  the  united 
streams  fall  into  the  Rio  ^Motagua,  which  a  little  farther  down  becomes  navigable 
for  steamers,  the  heads  of  navigation  being  Gttalan  during  the  floods  and  Barhasco 
in  the  dry  season.  In  the  forests  of  the  Sierra  del  Mico  north-east  of  the  latter 
place,  the  site  of  an  Indian  city,  whose  very  name  has  perished,  is  indicated 
by  numerous  pyramids  and  some  fine  ruins,  especially  carved  monoliths,  covered 
with  hieroglyphics,  human  figures,  turtles,  armadillos  and  other  animals.  This 
group  of  monuments  takes  at  present  the  name  of  Qairiijua,  from  a  village  five 
miles  off.     In  1839,  when  Stephens  and  Catherwood  began  their  archaeological 


exploration  of  Central  America,  the  very  existence  of  these  ruins  was  unknown, 
and  travellers  passed  within  a  few  miles  of  the  place  without  hearing  of  them. 
At  that  time  nothing  was  known  of  any  abandoned  Indian  city  in  this  district 
except  Copan,  which  lay  just  hevond  the  Guatemalan  frontier  towards  the  source 
of  the  Cumotan.  According  to  StoU,  the  Quirigua  remains  strike  the  spectator 
especially  for  their  remarkable  state  of  preservation,  although  not  built  of  particu- 
larly hard  materials  and  exposed  to  a  destructive  climate  at  once  very  damp  and 
very  hot ;  moreover,  the  inundations  of  the  Motagua  occasionally  reach  the  site 
of  the  ruins,  and  furrow  the  surface  with  ravines.  Hence  he  infers  that  the 
monuments  cannot  date  from  any  remote  period,  and  perhaps  were  even  in  a 
perfect  condition  when  the  Spaniards  made  their  appearance  in  the  country. 
The  slave-hunters,  who  wasted  the  land  in  quest  of  labourers  for  the  Cuban  and 
St.  Domingo  plantations,  may  have  been  the  destroyers  of  these  Indian  cities, 
although  ilaudilay  thinks  they  must  have  already  been  in  ruins  at  the  time 
of  Cortes'  expedition.  Being  everywhere  in  search  of  provisions  for  his  starving 
followers,  the  conqueror  would  certainly  have  applied  to  Quirigua  for  succour  had 
such  a  large  city  been  in  existence  at  that  time.  The  ruins  of  Chapuko,  which  are 
said  to  lie  on  the  south  side  of  the  Motagua  valley  over  against  Quirigua,  have 
not  yet  been  explored.  Paved  causeways  and  sepulchral  mounds  occur  here  and 
there  in  the  surrounding  forests. 

The  present  route  from  Guatemala  to  the  Atlintic  diverges  from  the  Motagua 
valley  at  Barbasco,  and  after  crossing  the  Mico  range  a  little  to  the  east  of 
Quirigua,  leads  down  to  Izabal,  an  unhealthy  place  on  the  south  side  of  the  Golfo 
Dulce.  Under  the  Spanish  rule  this  port,  which  has  the  immense  advantage  of 
Ijing  some  60  miles  inland,  but  which  is  inaccessible  to  vessels  of  deep  draught, 
■was  unable  to  develop  any  trade,  owing  to  the  corsairs  at  that  time  infesting  the 
surrounding  waters.  But  after  the  declaration  of  independence,  Izabal  almost 
entirely  monopolised  the  foreign  trade  of  Guatemala,  such  as  it  was.  Then  the 
discovery  of  the  Californian  goldfields,  and  the  establishment  of  regular  lines  of 
steamers  between  Panama  and  San  Francisco,  had  the  result  of  diverting  the  whole 
life  of  Guatemala  from  the  Atlantic  to  the  Pacific  seaboard.  Thus  Izabal  found 
itself  abandoned,  and  its  silent  streets  are  now  overgrown  with  the  sensitive 
mimosa.  But  the  improvement  of  the  communications,  and  peojjling,  or  rather 
repeopling  of  the  land  facing  the  Atlantic,  cannot  fail  to  revive  and  even  increase 
the  trade  of  Izabal. 

At  the  mouth  ol  the  Piio  Dulce,  on  the  Gulf  of  Amatique,  stands  the  seaport  of 
Liriiicjston,  so  named  in  honour  of  a  jurist  who  drew  up  the  legal  code  of  Guate- 
mala. The  first  colonists  settled  herein  1806,  and  the  place  is  at  present  inhabited 
by  Caribs,  agriculturists,  fishers,  and  seafarers,  who  carry  on  a  coasting  trade  with 
Belize  and  Honduras.  Livingston  has  recently  been  declared  a  free  port,  and  is 
already  much  frequented  by  American  skippers,  who  here  ship  bananas  and  other 
fruits  in  exchange  for  spirits.  This  port  is  the  third  in  Guatemala,  ranking  next 
in  importance  to  San  Jose  and  Champerico. 

On  the  east  bank  of  the  neighbouring  Rio  Dulce,  and  near  the  present  village 



of  San  Gil,  stood  the  great  citj'  of  Nifo,  which  was  cai)tured  by  Cortes'  lieutenant, 
Olid,  and  which  he  wished  to  make  the  cajjital  of  an  independent  state.  The 
eastern  headland,  at  the  issue  of  the  Rio  Dulce  on  the  margin  of  the  lake,  is 
crowned  by  the  citadel  of  Sun  Felipe,  one  of  the  most  unhealthj'  places  on  the 
seaboard.     It  has  accordingly  been  chosen  by  the  Government  as  a  state  prison. 

Cohan,  capital  of  Alta  Vera  Paz,  stands  4,380  feet  above  the  sea  in  the 
healthiest  and  one  of  the  most  fertile  districts  of  Guatemala.  It  is  a  flourishing 
place,  with  an  increasing  population  of  over  18,000,  mostly  industrious  Quekchi 
Indians,  who  raise  considerable  crops  of  miize  and  beans.  Coffee,  cinchona, 
and  the  wax  plant  {myrica  cerifera)  are  also  successfully  cultivated.  The 
neighbouring  rocks  are  pierced  by  numerous  caves,  and  the  whole  region  may  be 
said  to  rest  on  limestone  vaults,  the  most   remarkable  of  which  is  that  of    Sau 

99. — Lake  Peten. 
Scale  1  :  720,000. 

r  ,  EI  Remate 
Maca'nche*  ,  °° /.'AA/o^ 


VVest  oF  breenwpch 


12  Miles. 

Agostin  Langnin,  where  a  little  affluent  of  the  Polochic  has  its  source.  A  good 
carriage-road  running  south-east  and  east  through  the  villages  of  Tactic,  Tamahu, 
Tucunt,  and  Tcleman,  leads  to  the  riverain  port  of  I'aiizos,  where  the  local  produce 
is  forwarded  by  a  small  steamer  down  the  Polochic  to  the  Golfo  Dulce.  No  trace 
now  remains  of  the  Nueva  Seiilla,  founded  in  1544  near  the  mouth  of  the  Polochic  ; 
but  in  1825  the  English  established  in  the  district  the  colony  of  Ahbotsville  {Boca 
Nueva),  which  was  not  more  successful  than  its  Spanish  predecessor. 

Lihertad,  capital  of  the  department  of  Peten,  better  known  \>\  its  Indian  name 
of  Sacluc,  lies  on  an  affluent  of  the  Pasion,  a  main  branch  of  the  Usumacinta. 
The  few  inhabitants  of  the  surrounding  savannas  are  occupied  chiefly  in  stock- 
breeding.  Excellent  pasturage  is  afforded  by  the  whole  of  this  lake-studded 
i-egion  stretching  northwards   in  the  direction  of  Yucatan.     An  island  in  the 



neighbouring  Lake  Peten  is  occupied  by  the  ancient  city  of  Tayasal,  now  re-named 
Flores  in  honour  of  a  victim  of  the  civil  war  of  1826.  A  steep  road  leads  from 
the  place  to  the  crest  of  a  hill,  whence  a  fine  prosj^ect  is  commanded  of  the 
islands,  headlands,  wooded  heights,  and  blue  waters  of  the  lake.  On  the  opposite 
shore  are  seen  the  two  large  Indian  settlements  of  San  Andres  and  San  Jose  dis- 
posed along  the  slopes  of  the   encircling  hills.     The  whole  territorj-  of  Peten  is 

Pig.  100. — Density  of  the  Popuiatiox  in  Guatemala. 
Scale  1 :  4,500.000. 

Inhabitan'*  to  llie  Square  MUe 


2  to  20.        20  to  40.        40  to  60.        60  to  100.       100  and 

•  Towns  of  over  25,000  inhibitants. 

.  60  Miles. 

surprisingly  fertile,  maize  yielding  two  hundredfold  without  manure,  while  the 
cacao,  coffee,  tobacco,  and  vanilla  of  the  surrounding  plantations  are  of  the  best 
qualit}'.  The  fishes  inhabiting  the  lake  are  said  to  be  all  of  distinct  species. 
According  to  the  legend  they  were  formerly  of  larger  size  than  at  present,  being 
fed  in  pre-Columbian  times  on  the  bodies  of  the  dead.  Of  the  ruined  cities  that  are 
scattered  over  the  clearings  north  of  the  lake,  in  the  direction  of  Yucatan,  Ti/ciil 
alone  has  been  explored.      It  lies  20  miles  to  the  north-cast  of  Peten,  and  is  noted 


for  its  lofty  verdure-clad  pyramid,  the  most  majestic  Maya  structure  seen  by 
Maiulslay  during  kis  explorations  of  Central  America.  Here  BernouilU  found 
about  a  dozen  hieroglyphical  tablets  of  sapota  wood,  which  are  now  preserved  in 
the  Museum  of  Basle 

Economic  Coxdition  of  Guatemala. 

The  population  of  Guatemala  is  steadily  increasing  almost  exclusively  by  the 
natural  excess  of  births  over  the  mortality.  Foreign  immigration  is  so  slight  that 
not  more  than  2,000  strangers  are  settled  in  the  republic.  Of  these  the  most 
numerous  are  the  "Tiroleses,"  a  term  applied  generally  to  all  North  Italians,  whose 
industrious  habits  have  earned  for  them  the  contempt  of  the  Indians,  hitherto 
accustomed  to  regard  their  white  masters  as  a  superior  race  above  the  necessity  of 
manual  labour.  Since  1778  the  jjopulation  has  grown  from  260,000  to  1,450,000, 
and  the  increase  has  been  uniform  in  all  the  departments,  except  in  some  of  the 
northern  districts  on  the  Atlantic  coast.  At  the  same  time  illegitimacy  is  exces- 
sive, especially  amongst  the  Ladinos,  or  "civilised"  Indians,  nearly  one-half  of 
whom  are  returned  as  born  out  of  wedlock. 

With  the  exception  of  wheat  grown  with  potatoes  on  the  Altos  (uplands),  the 
agricultural  produce  amply  suffices  for  the  local  demand.  Like  those  of  Mexico, 
the  Indians  of  the  temperate  zone  live  almost  exclusively  on  maize,  beans,  and 
bananas  ;  even  fasajo,  or  jerked  meat,  is  a  rare  delicacy,  and  pork  is  eaten  only  on 
feast-days.  Water  is  their  usual  drink,  except  on  pay-day,  when  they  get  drunk 
on  a  fiery  brandy  here  bearing  the  Peruvian  name  of  "  chicha,"  or  on  other  fermented 
liquors  such  as  tiste  and  jmnqne,  which,  like  the  povola  of  Tabasco,  is  food  and 
drink  combined. 

When  Guatemala  proclaimed  her  independence,  next  to  nothing  was  raised  for 
the  foreign  markets  ;  but  cochineal,  for  which  the  country  is  as  well  suited  as  Oaxaca 
itself,  soon  became  a  lucrative  industry,  especially  in  the  Amatitlan  and  neigh- 
bouring districts.  The  export  rose  from  16,000  pounds  in  1827  to  nearl}'  2,250,000 
in  the  middle  of  the  century.  But  the  cochineal  industry  was  ruined  by  the  dis- 
covery of  dyes  extracted  from  coal,  and  nopal-fields  are  now  rarely  seen.  They 
have  been  replaced  by  coffee,  which'is  now  the  staple  of  the  export  trade.  In  the 
districts  where  it  is  cultivated — Boca  Costa,  between  Retalhuleu  and  Escuiutla, 
Antigua,  Petapa,  Amatitlan — the  shrub  thrives  in  the  shade  of  leafy  trees  from 
2,000  to  3,000  feet  above  the  sea,  and  on  open  plantations  up  to  4,000  and  even 
5,000  feet.  The  Guatemalan  coffee  is  highly  esteemed,  and  the  plant  has  hitherto 
escaped  the  ravages  of  parasites.  The  crop  of  1890,  yielded  by  over  50,000,000 
shrubs,  was  estimated  at  30,000  tons,  worth  £3,000,000. 

The  temperate  zone  is  also  suited  for  sugar- growing,  although,  for  want  of 
capital,  Guatemala  is  unable  to  compete  with  the  wealthy  planters  of  Cuba,  Louis- 
iana, and  Brazil.  Nevertheless,  from  5,000  to  6,000  tons  are  raised  in  the  Costa 
Cuca  and  Costa  Grande  districts,  for  the  local  wants  and  for  the  production  of  rum. 
But  distillers  are  so  heavily  taxed  that  little  profit  is  made,  except  by  smugglers. 
The  cultivation  of  cacao   {theobroma)   has  been  almost  abandoned,  although  the 



'*  •  «• 

v^ '•'•''>  •^:x 



local  varieties  are  of  exquisite  flavour.  During  the  Spanish  rule  the  cacao  of 
West  Guatemala  and  Soconusco  was  reserved  for  the  Court  of  Madi-id  ;  now  it  is 
no  longer  exported,  though  it  commands  a  higher  price  in  the  country  than  th& 
best  varieties  exported  to  Europe.  Indigo,  formerly  raised  in  the  Retalhulcu 
district,  is.  also  now  neglected,  hut,  being  a  vigorous  plant,  it  continues  to  grow  wild, 
and  in  many  places  has  invaded  the  sugar  and  other  plantations.  Cotton  is  scarcely 

Pig.  101. — Chief  PEODtrcis  of  Guatehaia. 

Scale  1 :  i-SOXOOO. 

West    o'^     Greenes  ;ch 

W  llilM. 

cultivated,  except  by   the   Indians  of  the  hot  zone.     The  competition  of  foreign 
importers  has  also  nearly  ruined  the  native  weavers. 

Unsuccessful  attempts  have  been  made  to  introduce  caoutchouc  {castilloa 
elasfica)  into  the  temperate  zone,  but  it  is  stiU  collected  in  the  forests,  although 
the  wild  plant  yields  an  inferior  gum.  The  cocoanut  palm  has  been  planted 
round  most  of  the  coast  towns  and  farmsteads,  but  more  for  ornament  than  use. 
On  the  other  hand,  cinchona  is  extensively  cultivated,  especially  in  the  Cohan 
district  and  on  the  Pacific  slope;  as  many  as  1,5-30,000  trees  had  already  been 
planted  in  the  year  1SS4. 


Vast  tracts,  formerly  under  primeval  forest,  have  been  cleared,  and  mostly 
converted  into  savannas  for  stock-breeding.  Even  in  the  districts  under  cultiva- 
tion, the  planters  have  their  pofreros,  or  saccitaks,  little  plots  reserved  for  pasturage. 
Nevertheless,  the  stock  is  insufficient  for  the  local  demand,  and  cattle  have  to  be 
imported  at  high  rates  from  Mexico  and  Honduras.  Sheep  are  confined  chiefly 
to  the  Altos,  where  the  wool  is  used  in  the  manufacture  of  coarse  fabrics. 

As  in  ilexico,  most  of  the  Indians  employed  on  the  plantations  are  held  in  a 
state  of  real  bondage  by  the  hahilitacioncs,  or  advances  in  money,  which  they  are 
unable  to  refund,  and  for  which  the  produce  of  their  future  labour  becomes 
pledged.  Hence,  as  in  the  days  of  slavery,  the  planters  keep  overseers  to  prevent 
the  men  from  escaping.  Statute  labour,  and  even  the  lash,  flourish  in  spite  of  the 
law,  and  the  magistrates  themselves  supply  the  landowners  with  "hands"  for  a  small 
consideration.  Nevertheless,  in  many  districts  the  Indians  are  still  free,  and  own 
the  land  they  till.  In  virtue  of  a  recent  law,  all  mayors,  or  the  jefes  politico^ 
(political  agents),  of  the  Alta  Vera  Paz  communes,  where  the  civilised  Indians 
are  most  numerous,  are  required  to  allot  to  each  native  as  his  share  of  the  public 
domain  a  plot  of  about  4,400  square  yards  with  free  title,  but  on  condition  of 
neither  selling,  letting,  nor  mortgaging  the  concession  for  the  first  ten  years.  Vast 
spaces  are  still  unoccupied,  and  these  baldios,  as  they  are  called,  all  belong  to  the 
State,  which  sells  or  leases  them  at  pleasure.  In  order  to  safeguard  what  remains  of 
the  vacant  lands  it  has  been  decided  to  make  no  grants  of  more  than  3,400  acres 
to  a  single  person,  who  must  be  a  native  or  naturalised  citizen. 

Although,  compared  to  Mexico,  Guatemala  possesses  little  mineral  wealth, 
the  Izabal  district,  on  the  Atlantic  seaboard,  was  said  to  abound  in  auriferous 
deposits,  hence  the  expression  "  Gold  Coast "  often  applied  to  it  in  official  documents 
of  the  seventeenth  century.  These  treasures  were  worked  exclusively  by  English 
miners,  who,  according  to  the  tradition,  extracted  enough  gold  to  purchase  "  a 
kingdom  of  Spain."  In  recent  times  they  have  been  succeeded  by  Americans, 
who  have  at  least  discovered  gold  washings,  though  the  yield  is  valued  at  no  more 
than  £6,000  a  year.  Quicksilver  mines  exist  on  the  Huehuetenango  plateaux  ;  but 
the  Indians,  who  from  time  to  time  oifer  the  pure  metal  for  sale,  have  hitherto 
refused  to  reveal  the  locality.  A  mountain  in  the  Cumbre  de  Chixoy  is  also  said  to 
contain  over  35,000,000  cubic  feet  of  lead  ore,  three-fourths  of  which  is  pure  metal. 

The  foreign  trade  of  Guatemala,  although  steadilj'  increasing,  is  still  less  than 
£2,000,000,  including  all  the  exchanges.  About  nine-tenths  of  the  total  exports 
are  represented  by  coffee,  the  other  articles  in  order  of  importance  being  sugar, 
skins  and  hides,  caoutchouc,  silver,  and  bananas.  Great  Britain  has  the  largest 
share  of  the  foreign  traffic,  the  United  States,  France,  and  Germany  ranking  next 
in  importance. 

The  railway  system  is  little  developed,  the  only  important  lines  being  those 
from  San  Jose  to  Guatemala,  and  from  Champerico  to  Eetalhuleu.  It  is  now 
proposed  to  continue  these  lines  to  the  Atlantic,  and  Puerto  Barrios,  on  St. 
Thomas  Bay,  has  been  chosen  as  the  eastern  terminus  of  the  transoceanic  railway. 
A  few  miles  have  already  been  constructed  at  the  Atlantic  end,  but  the  ascent   to 



tlie  plateaux,  tlie  bridging  of  the  Motagua,  and  otlaer  difRculties,  havo  arrested 
the  progress  of  the  line,  the  total  length  of  which  is  estimated  at  ISG  miles. 
Even  good  carriage-roads  are  still  rare,  and  the  only  bridge  crossing  the  Motagui 

Fig.  102.— GrATEiiAiAN  Alcaldes,  Altos  Region. 

has  been  swept  away  by  the  floods.  Meanwhile,  all  merchandise  destined  for  the 
Atlantic  has  to  be  tran.sported  by  pack  mules.  In  the  thinly -peopled  regions  of 
the  interior  the  postal  service  is  still  carried  on,  as  in  the  tim'e  of  Montezuma,  by 

VOL.    XVII.  ^ 


relays  of  couriers,  by  means  of  whom  letters  and  verbal  messages  are  transmitted 
witb  great  rapidity.  But  the  development  of  the  telegraph,  and  even  of  the 
telephone,  must  soon  supersede  this  antiquated  system. 

Education  is  still  in  a  backward  state,  and  in  1890  there  were  only  1,200 
schools,  with  an  attendance  of  53,000,  in  the  whole  republic.  The  three  colleges 
for  secondary  instruction  are  frequented  by  about  1,200  students,  and  in  all  the 
higher  schools  English  is  obligatory. 

The  Guatemalan  constitution  has  undergone  many  changes.  At  one  time  part 
of  a  larger  state,  at  another  an  independent  republic,  alternately  ruled  by  the 
"Serviles"  and  the  "  Liberals,"  exposed  to  the  tyranny  of  a  Carrera  or  the 
cruelty  of  a  Barrios,  the  nation  has  had  to  modify  its  political  charter  with  every 
fresh  revolution.  The  last  constitution  was  that  of  1879,  completed  in  1889, 
though  fresh  changes  will  have  still  to  be  made  if  Guatemala  is  eventually  to 
become  a  member  of  the  contemplated  Central  American  Confederacy. 

The  legislative  power  is  vested  in  a  chamber  of  deputies,  in  the  proportion 
of  one  to  20,000  inhabitants,  elected  by  all  citizens  capable  of  reading  and  writing. 
The  deputies,  half  of  whom  retire  by  rotation  every  two  years,  number  at  present 
69,  and  are  returned  by  electoral  districts,  which  are  represented  by  one, 
two,  or  three  members,  according  to  their  population.  The  executive  is  entrusted 
to  a  president  elected  for  six  months,  assisted  by  a  state  council,  and  six  ministers 
having  charge  of  foreign  affairs,  the  interior,  public  works,  war,  finance,  and 
public  instruction.  Lastly,  the  judicial  functions  are  exercised  by  a  high  court  of 
final  appeal,  and  lower  courts,  all  judges  being  appointed  by  election.  Imprison- 
ment for  debt  is  abolished,  and  the  domicile,  as  well  as  private  correspondence,  is 
held  to  be  inviolate,  except  in  time  of  war  or  invasion,  when  all  rights  are 

In  the  departments  and  communes,  the  aijuntamientos  are  constituted  by 
popular  suffrage,  although  the  Government  reserves  the  right  of  dissolving  these 
assemblies,  and  replacing  them  by  a  judge.  It  also  appoints  to  each  department 
a  jefe  jmlitico,  who  is  always  a  military  officer,  although  charged  with  civil  func- 
tions. His  power  over  the  Indians  is  almost  unlimited,  and  in  each  commune 
a  comisionado  politico  or  gohernador,  often  chosen  amongst  the  descendants  of  the 
ancient  caciques,  transmits  his  orders  to  the  alcaldes,  of  whom  there  are  two  or 
three,  according  to  the  population  of  the  district.  The  "  first  alcalde  "  has  special 
charge  of  the  Ladinos,  the  "  second  "of  the  Indians,  and  both  wear  the  traditional 
hat  and  band  as  the  badge  of  their  authority,  besides  the  cruciform  or  silver- 
mounted  rod. 

The  Church,  long  supreme  in  Guatemala,  has  no  longer  any  recognized  privi- 
leges. According  to  the  constitution,  no  cult  enjoys  any  pre-eminence,  and  the 
free  exercise  of  all  religions  is  authorised,  although  in  1890  there  was  only  one 
Protestant  church  in  the  capital.  The  Jesuits  had  already  been  expelled  in  1767, 
and  in  1871  their  establishments  were  finally  suppressed  and  their  property  con- 
fiscated. The  same  fate  had  befallen  the  other  religious  communities  in  1829, 
although  they  subsequently  recovered  part  of  their  effects.     But  the  property  of 



all  religious  orders  was  "  nationalised  "  in  1872,  and  in  187-i  all  nunneries  were 
suppressed  except  one.  Some  of  the  convents  were  used  as  schools  or  depots  ;  but 
most  of  the  ecclesiastical  domains  benefited  the  "  politicians  "  alone,  many  of  whom 
suddenly  found  themselves  in  possession  of  vast  fortunes. 

OflSciallj-  all  citizens  between  the  ages  of  18  and  50  are  bound  to  military- 
service  ;  but  the  law  exempts  the  only  sons  of  widows,  professors,  officials,  and  all 
capable  of  purchasing  exemption  by  an  annual  payment  of  50  dollars.      Pure 

Fig.  103. — PoLmcAi.  Divisio>-3  of  GuiXEiLU-i. 

ScilB  I     4.500,000. 

130  Miles. 

Indians  are  not  enrolled,  but  in  time  of  war  they  are  pressed  into  the   transport 

The  yearly  budget  varies  from  £800,000  to  over  £1,000,000,  mostly  raised 
from  the  customs  levied  on  nearly  all  foreign  imports,  or  derived  from  the  excise 
on  the  manufacture  and  sale  of  spirits,  ilost  of  the  revenue  is  absorbed  by  the 
army,  though  a  yearly  sum  of  £80,000  to  £100,000  is  devoted  to  public  instruction. 

In  1S90  the  national  debt  was  about  £4,200,000,  over  half  of  which  was  due  to 
English  capitalists. 

R  2 


The  republic  is  divided  iuto  23  administrative  departments,  all  of  which  are 
less  than  -3,000  square  miles  in  extent,  except  the  three  great  divisions  of  Huehue- 
tenango  (6,000),  Alta  Vera  Puz  (7,000),  and  Peten  (10,000).  The  chief  towns, 
mostly  bearing  the  same  names  as  the  departments,  have  all  populations  of  less 
than  20,000,  except  Totonicapam  (20,000),  Quezaltenango  (24,000),  and  the  state 
capital,  Guatemala  (06,000). 

III. —  Sax  Salvador. 

San  Salvador,  or  simplj'  Salvador,  smallest  of  the  Central  American  states,  is 
the  richest  and  relatively  the  most  densely  jjeopled.  Its  area  is  estimated  at 
about  7,250  square  miles,  or  less  than  that  of  British  Honduras,  though  its  popula- 
tion is  at  least  twenty  times  greater  than  that  colony.  It  forms  a  narrow  zone  of 
quadrilateral  shape  on  the  Pacific  slope,  186  miles  long  and  with  a  mean  breadth  of 
not  more  than  50  miles.  The  landward  frontiers  are  mostly  conventional  lines,  or 
else  indicated  by  streams  both  banks  of  which  are  inhabited  by  peoples  of  the  same 
origin.  Towards  Guatemala  the  line  follows  the  course  of  the  little  river  Paza  to 
the  Chingo  volcano,  beyond  which  it  intersects  Lake  Guija  and  trends  round  east- 
v^ards  to  Honduras,  where  it  traverses  mountains  and  vallej's  with  equal  disregard 
of  the  physiciil  and  ethnical  relations.  Northwards  the  frontier  is  not  indicated  by 
the  crest  of  the  sierra,  but  by  the  river  Sumpul,  a  tributary  of  the  Lemj^a,  then  by 
the  Lempa  itself  below  the  confluence,  and  lastly  by  another  stream  belonging 
to  the  same  basin.  On  the  east  it  follows  the  course  of  the  Goascoran,  which 
leaves  to  Salvador  only  a  small  part  of  the  margin  of  Fonseca  Bay. 

The  main  range  and  the  volcanic  chain,  which  had  already  ramified  in  Guate- 
mala, continue  to  diverge  to  a  considerable  distance  eastwards,  so  that  the  former 
belongs  entirely  to  Honduras,  the  latter  to  Salvador.  Here  the  prevailing  rocks 
are  undoubtedly  of  eruptive  origin,  although  many  volcanic  cones  are  no  longer 
easily  recognised,  their  craters  having  been  obliterated,  and  their  slopes  covered 
with  the  same  grey,  white  or  yellowish  clay  which  also  overlay  the  Mexican  and 
Guatemalan  mountains.  The  plains  encircling  the  volcanoes  consist  to  a  great 
depth  of  ashes  and  jiumice,  the  upper  crust  of  w  hich,  when  decomposed,  yields  a 
soil  of  extraordinary  fertility. 

East  of  Guatemala  the  chief  range  is  that  of  the  steep  Matapan  Mountains 
(5,000  feet),  which  rise  to  the  north-east  of  Lake  Guija,  and  which  from  a  distance 
seem  quite  inaccessible.  But  no  igneous  cones  are  here  visible,  and  most  of  the 
active  craters  lie  nearer  to  the  Pacific  coast,  between  Ahuachapam  and  the  \'illage 
of  San  Juan  de  Dios,  where  is  developed  a  line  of  the  so-called  aiisoks  disposed 
transversely  to  the  volcanic  axis.  At  many  points  along  this  line  gases  are  emitted 
in  abundance,  but  all  the  most  remarkable  ausoles,  presenting  every  transition 
from  tlie  mud  volcano  and  gas  jet  to  the  hot  spring,  are  concentrated  close  to 
Ahuachapam,  on  the  main  route  between  the  cities  of  Guatemala  and  San  Salvador. 
Over  the  plain  are  scattered  large  mud  lakes,  kept  in  a  state  of  ebullition  b}'  the 
underground  vapours,  and  the  clays  deposited  by  the  ausoles  present  every  shade 
of  colour — blue,  green,  yellow  or  red,  evidently  due  to  the  disintegration  of  ferru- 



ginous  rocks  intersporsed  with  alum  and  siilpliur.  To  judge  from  tlie  accounts 
of  early  writers,  all  the  ausoles  would  appear  to  have  diminished  in  temperature 
and  activity  during  the  present  century. 

Farther  east  is  developed  an  igneous  system,  the  Madre  del  Volcan,  with  peaks 
from  5,500  to  6,500  feet  high,  all  of  which — Apaneca,  Launita  (Lagunita),  San 
Juan,  Aguila,  Naranjo  and  others — are  said  by  the  inhabitants  of  Sonsonate  to  be 
true  volcanoes.  But  according  to  Dollfus  and  Mont-Serrat  thej^  are  rather  masses 
of  trachytic  porphyry,  covered  with  yellow  clays  and  ashes  ejected  by  distant 
volcanoes.  One,  however,  the  Santa  Ana  (C,650  feet),  appears  to  be  a  real  crater, 
which  has  been  recently  even  in  eruption. 

A  far  more  celebrated,  though  less  elevated,  volcano  is  that  of  Izalco,  which 

Kg.   101. — AUSOL  AT  Ahuaohapam. 

belongs  to  the  same  system,  and  which,  like  the  Jorullo  of  Mexico,  lias  made  its 
appearance  since  the  arrival  of  the  Sj^auiards  in  the  New  World.  At  the  beginning 
of  the  seventeenth  century,  its  site,  or  at  least  the  district  near  Sonsonate,  was 
occupied  by  ausoles  like  those  of  Ahuachapam,  which,  however,  appear  to  have  after- 
wards become  extinct.  But  on  February  23,  1770,  the  ground  suddenly  opened 
and  ejected  copious  lava  streams.  Then  the  cone  began  to  rise  above  the  surface, 
and  has  ever  since  continued  to  expand ;  but  since  the  first  eruption  it  has  ejected 
nothing  but  ashes.  Formerlj'  the  explo-.ions  were  almost  incessant,  and  the 
volumes  of  fiery  vapour  rolling  up  from  the  crater  at  night  earned  for  Izalco  the 
title  of  the  Faro  del  Salvador  ("  Salvador  Lighthouse  ").  Dollfus  and  Mont- 
Serrat,  who  ascended  it  during  a  short  period  of  repose  in  1SG6,  estimated  its  height 



at  a  little  over  G,000  feet,  and  found  the  summit  pierced  by  three  craters,  one  of 
which  emitted  vapours  with  hissing  and  rumbling  noises.  Izalco  is  a  perfect  cone, 
"  as  regular  as  if  turned  out  by  a  lathe." 

San  Salvador,  a  volcano  rising  to  a  height  of  G,'200  feet,  about  six  miles  north 
of  the  capital,  appears  to  have  been  quiescent  since  pre-Columbian  times.  From 
a  distance  it  presents  none  of  the  distinctive  features  of  an  igneous  cone,  being  an 
elongated  mass  with  irregular  base,  and  wooded  nearly  to  the  summit.  But  it 
terminates  in  the  so-called  boqueron,  an  immense  crater  nearly  round,  about  three 
miles  in  circuit  and  flooded  by  a  green  transparent  lake  650  feet  deep.  On  the 
flanks  is  an  ausol  constantly  discharging  vapours,  and  near  the  north  base  are  some 

Fig.  105. — Volcanoes  of  West  Salvadob. 
Scale  1  :  1.200^000. 


18  Unes. 

parasitic  cones,  one  of  which,  the  Quezaltepec  volcano,  was  the  scene  of  a  small 
eruption  at  the  beginning  of  the  century. 

But  although  the  volcanoes  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  capital  have  not  been 
the  scene  of  any  important  eruptions  during  the  historic  period,  earthquakes  have 
been  frequent  and  almost  as  disastrous  as  in  any  region  of  the  globe.  They  are 
all  the  more  dangerous  that  the  ground  on  which  San  Salvador  is  built  consists  of  a 
whitish  tufaceous  rock,  light  and  unstable,  "  floating,"  so  to  say,  in  the  depressions 
of  the  solid  crust  without  coalescing  with  it.  The  city  has  been  overthrown  and 
rebuilt  on  the  same  site  no  less  than  seven  times  during  the  last  three  centuries. 
The  sudden  catastrophe  of  1854  swallowed  up  many  victims,  while  that  of  1873 
was  even  still  more  destructive  to  the  buildings. 

This  disturbance  appears  to  have  radiated  from  Tiuke  Ilopango  (Apulo),  a  deep 




basin  six  miles  cast  of  the  capital,  about  1 ,600  feet  above  the  sea,  encircled  by  steep 
rocky  shores.  The  lake,  which  has  an  area  of  2-1  square  miles,  has  frequently 
chaDged  its  level,  and  towards  the  middle  of  the  eighteenth  century  it  was  much 
lower  than  at  present.  But  after  a  series  of  landslips  its  eastern  emissary,  which 
flows  in  a  deep  barranca  to  the  Jiboa,  a  direct  affluent  of  the  Pacific,  was  dammed 
Lip,  thus  causing  a  considerable  rise  in  the  level.  In  1873,  the  lake  was 
violently  agitated  and  raised  about  three  feet  above  its  normal  level,  and  in  1879, 
a  fresh  disturbance  was  followed  by  another  rise  of  four  feet. 

Then  the  waters  overflowed  their  banks,   and  rapidly  excavated  a  channel, 


lO'j. — Lake  Ilopaxgo. 
Scale  1  :  l70/y«i. 


West  oi   GreenwicK 


0  to  50 

60  to  100 

100  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

__  3  Tililee. 

whereby  a  subsidence  of  eight  feet  was  effected  in  three  hours.  In  54  days  there 
was  a  total  fall  of  35  feet,  the  volume  discharged  being  estimated  at  over  20,320 
million  cubic  feet.  The  noxious  vapours  which  at  first  accompanied  these  convul- 
sions were  followed  by  discharges  of  lava,  and  islets  composed  of  eruptive  matter 
rose  gradually  above  the  surface  of  the  seething  waters.  But  when  all  was  over 
nothing  remained  except  an  island  of  hard  lava  160  feet  high,  in  the  immediate 
vicinity  of  which  the  sounding- line  revealed  a  depth  of  over  100  fathoms. 
During  "the  eruption  the  geologist  Goodyear  recorded  no  less  than  440  violent 



North-east  of  Lake  Ilopan go  rise  the  spurs  of  the  Cojutepec  volcano  (3,-100 
feet),  whose  crater,  though  still  visible,  has  been  quiescent  throughout  the  historic 
period.  Farther  on  follows  Chichontepec,  the  "  Twin-peaked,"  now  known  by 
the  name  of  San  Vicente,  highest  volcano  in  S^ilvador  (7,920  feet).  Like  Agua, 
in  Guatemala,  its  terminal  cone  formerly  contained  a  tarn,  which  after  a  long 
rainy  season,  burst  its  margin  and  rushed  down  to  the  plains  through  barrancas 
scored  in  the  flank  of  the  mountain.  The  summit  of  San  Vicente  presents  the 
finest  panoramic  view  in  Salvador,   embracing  Lake   Ilopango,   the  richly  culti- 

Fig.  107. — Volcanoes  of  East  Salvadoh. 
Scale  1  :  eoj.oon. 

12  Miles. 

vated    slopes   descending   towards   the    Pacific,    and   the  deep  valley  of  the  Rio 

Beyond  the  gap  caused  by  this  fluvial  valley  the  chain  of  igneous  cones  is 
continued  by  the  Tecapa  volcano,  also  containing  a  lake  of  considerable  extent, 
whose  waters,  according  to  the  natives,  "  are  cold  on  one  side  and  hot  on  the 
other."  Farther  on  follow  the  mountains  of  Usulutan  and  the  four-crested 
Chinameca  (5,000  feet).  None  of  these  have  been  the  scene  of  recent  disturbances, 
while    Chinamcca's  vast   crater,   nearly  a  mile    in   circumference,  is  completely 


Sail  Miguel,  one  of  the  loftiest  summits  in  Salvador  (7,100  feet),  which,  thanks 


to  its  isolation,  its  rugged  slopes,  and  sharply-truncated  upper  crest,  presents  an 
aspect  of  unrivalled  grandeur,  offers  a  superb  prospect  of  the  surrounding  plains 
and  river  valleys  away  to  the  Pacific  and  ramifying  inlets  of  Fonseca  Bay.  San 
Miguel  has  been  in  eruption  several  times  during  the  historic  period,  and  in  1844: 
as  many  as  fourteen  fissures  on  its  flanks  discharged  diverging  streams  of  lava,  one 
of  which  flowed  ten  miles  northwards  to  the  outskirts  of  the  city  of  San  Miguel. 
The  terminal  crater  is  one  of  the  largest  in  Central  America,  being  nearly  two 
miles  in  circuit  and  500  feet  deep. 

Farther  east  the  volcanic  chain  terminates  in  the  twin  crested  Conchagua, 
■whose  gently-inclined  wooded  slopes  project  into  Fonseca  Bay.  Conchagua,  whose 
chief  summit,  the  Cerro  del  Ocote,  rises  to  a  height  of  4,100  feet,  was  supposed  to 
be  extinct  till  the  j'car  1868,  when  a  fissure  was  opened  on  its  flanks,  whence 
issued  dense  volumes  of  vapours,  accompanied  by  violent  earthquakes  and  avalanches 
of  rocks. 

The  lava  streams  which  have  been  discharged  parallel  with  the  Pacific  coast 
have  certainly  contributed  to  modify  the  hydrographic  system  of  Salvador  by 
damming  up  the  streams  and  compelling  them  either  to  excavate  fresh  channels  or 
to  fill  vast  lacustrine  depressions.  A  distinct  waterparting  has  been  formed  by 
the  volcanic  range,  whence  on  one  side  flow  rapid  torrents  seawards,  while,  on  the 
other,  the  running  waters  converge  in  the  great  valley  of  the  Rio  Lempa,  running 
parallel  with  the  igneous  axis  and  the  main  Honduras  range. 

The  Lempa,  one  of  the  chief  rivers  of  Central  America,  rises  in  Guatemala,  one 
of  its  headstreams  descending  from  the  famous  shrine  of  Esquipulas.  After 
crossing  the  frontier  it  receives  the  overflow  of  the  great  Lake  Guija,  which  is 
itself  fed  by  the  Ostua  and  numerous  torrents  from  the  surrounding  mountains. 

Below  the  confluence  the  Lempa  continues  to  flow  parallel  with  the  Pacific 
coast,  receiving  on  both  banks  numerous  tributaries  from  the  northern  and  southern 
ranges.  Beyond  its  junction  'with  its  largest  afiluent,  the  Sumpul  from  the 
Honduras  mountains,  it  is  joined  from  the  east  by  the  Tonola.  Beyond  this  point 
the  mainstream  forces  a  passage  through  the  escarpments  of  the  plateau  down  to 
the  plains,  where  its  yellow  waters,  scarcely  10  feet  deep  in  the  dry  season,  flow 
with  a  sluggish  current  a  few  yards  above  the  level  of  the  Pacific.  During  the 
floods  its  lower  course  has  a  depth  of  from  20  to  26  feet,  but  at  its  mouth  it  is 
obstructed  by  a  bar  never  more  than  six  or  seven  feet  dei  p.  Thus  the  Lempa,  with 
a  course  of  about  185  miles,  a  catchment  basin  6,000  square  miles  in  extent,  and  a 
mean  discharge  of  from  16,000  to  24,000  cubic  feet  per  second,  is  inaccessible  to 
marine  navigation,  though  river  steamers  can  ascend  its  lower  reaches  to  the 
great  southern  bend  at  the  Tonola  confluence.  The  San  Miguel,  which  flows  in  a 
nearly  parallel  channel  farther  east,  enters  the  sea  at  the  Estero  de  Jiquilisco,  an 
inlet  which  might  easily  be  connected  with  the  Lempa. 

The  Salvador  coast,  like  that  of  Guatemala,  has  been  subject  to  numerous 
changes  of  level  in  past  times.  Banks  of  recent  shells  lying  some  distance  inland 
show  that  the  beach  has  been  upheaved,  or  else  that  the  neighbouring  waters  have 


Climate,  Flora,  Fauna. 

Being  intersected  by  13°  30' north  latitude,  with  a  general  southern  incline,  the 
Salvador  coastlands  are  exposed  to  great  heats  which,  despite  the  refreshing  sea- 
breezes,  range  normally  from  about  78°  to  83°  Fahr.  But  the  coastlands  are  the 
least  inhabited  part  of  the  country,  most  of  the  population  being  concentrated  in 
the  elevated  volcanic  zone  between  2,000  and  3,000  feet  above  sea-level,  where  the 
mean  temperature  falls  to  7-1°  and  even  70°  Fahr.  Farther  north,  in  the  low-lying 
valley  of  the  Lempa,  which  is  inaccessible  to  the  sea-breezes,  the  climate  again 
becomes  hot  and  insalubrious ;  hence  this  district  also  is  but  sparsely  peopled. 

The  rains,  which  are  more  copious  on  the  seaward  slopes  of  the  mountains, 
begin  to  fall  about  the  middle  of  May,  and  last,  with  a  short  interruption  towards 
the  end  of  June,  till  the  month  of  September.  They  are  always  brought  by  the 
vendavales,  or  southern  winds,  and  are  at  times  accompanied  by  storms,  and  even  by 
cluihancos,  or  cyclones.  During  the  dry  season,  when  the  north  winds  prevail,  the 
coastlands  are  also  exposed  to  storms,  the  so-called  fcrrah's,  which  are  much  dreaded 
by  the  fishing  populations,  especially  in  the  months  of  February  and  March. 

In  its  flora  and  fauna  Salvador  differs  little  from  Guatemala.  A  characteristic 
species  is  the  balsam  {myrospcrmum  sah'ctforensr),  which  has  given  its  name  to  the 
section  of  the  coast  between  Acajutla  and  Libertad,  and  which  was  formerly  called 
"  Peruvian  Balsam,"  because  forwarded  to  Spain  by  the  Callao  route.  Salvador  is 
especially  rich  in  medicinal  plants,  gums,  and  resins.  Of  late  years  the  planta- 
tions have  been  somewhat  frequently  visited  by  clouds  of  locusts. 


The  Pipils,  that  is,  the  Aztecs  of  Guatemala,  were  also  in  possession  of  west 
Salvador  at  the  time  of  the  Spanish  Conquest,  as  is  attested  by  the  local  nomen- 
clature. The  centre  of  their  power  was  at  Suchitoto,  north  of  the  present  capital, 
and  Bernal  Diaz  tells  us  that  their  social,  religious  and  political  institutions  were 
identical  with  those  of  the  Mexican  Aztecs.  Their  territory  was  limited  north 
and  east  by  the  Rio  Lempa,  which  river  long  arrested  the  advance  of  the  Spaniards. 
The  very  name  of  the  river  is  a  corruption  of  Lempira,  chief  of  the  Chontal 
Indians,  who  offered  the  stoutest  resistance  to  the  invaders. 

After  the  conquest,  the  Pipils,  like  their  Mexican  kindred,  were  reduced  to  a 
state  of  abject  servitude  ;  yet  they  became  gradually  assimilated  to  their  x-nasters 
by  crossings,  and  at  the  time  of  the  declaration  of  independence  in  1821,  the 
Salvador  half-breeds  greatly  outnumbered  the  whites.  At  present,  about  four- 
fifths  of  the  population  are  of  mixed  Hispano-Tndian  descent.  But  there  still 
survive  some  nearly  if  not  quite  full-blood  Indian  communities,  such  as  the  Pipils 
of  Izalno,  who  stiU  speak  a  Mexican  dialect. 

But  the  native  customs  and  language  are  best  preserved  by  the  people  of  the 
Balsam  coast,  south  of  the  volcanic  range.  These  Indians,  who  dwell  in  low  huts 
covered  v/ith  foliage,  cultivate  a  little  maize,  and  do  some  trade  in  bananas  with 



the  seaports.  The  money  derived  from  this  traffic  is  spent  in  decorating  their 
churches  and  feasting  their  patron  saints,  all  being  now  at  least  nominal  Catholics. 
Physically,  they  differ  little  from  their  Guatemalan  neighbours,  except  in  their 
darker  complexion,  and  the  much  smaller  stature  of  their  women. 


Ahuachapam,  the  first  town  near  the  Guatemalan,  is  perhaps  the  city  of  Paza 
(Pasaco),  whence  was  named  the  Rio  Paza,  fonning  the  present  political  frontier 
between  Guatemala  and  Salvador.  Ahuachapam,  with  the  neighbouring  towns  of 
Atiquisaija,  ChalchHitpa,  and  Santa  Ana,  lies  in  a  marvellously  fertile  district,  on 
which  sugar  and  coffee  are  largely  grown,  but  which  has  often  been  a  battle-field 

Kg.  lOS. — San  Sai-vador  a>."d  its  Exvteoxs. 
Scale  1 :  230,000. 








1  i  ■>:!- 

/  . 


ti|;uo  Cuscatlan 


;         -5    TecUy    .   .. 
.C.Mevi  S. Salvador); 


\    ■ 


t      -wsm 


•  69"i6'  .-       -. 

'"'"^^  ^ . 


\   T--    ;,'■    Greenwich 


.  6  lliles. 

in  the  wars  between  Guatemala  and  Salvador.  It  was  at  Chalchuapa  that  the 
dictator,  Eufino  Barrios,  was  overthrown  in  the  ^jinguinary  engagement  of  1885, 
which  put  an  end  to  the  hegemony  of  Guatemala  over  the  other  Central  American 

Sonsonafe,  or  the  "  Four  Hundred  Springs,"  also  lies  in  a  rich  and  well-watered 
plain,  which  is  often  illumined  at  night  by  the  fires  of  Izalco.  Formerly  the  most 
important  place  in  west  Salvador,  Sonsonate  has  now  been  eclipsed  by  Santa  Ana, 
which  lies  to  the  north  of  the  volcano  of  like  name  on  the  main  route  between 
Salvador  and  Guatemala.  Since  the  earthquakes  h\  which  the  capital  has  been 
twice  destroyed,  Santa  xVna  has  become  the  largest  city  in  the  republic  ;  it  is  an 
important   agricultural  centre,    and  the  neighbouring:  district   of    Mctwpan,   on 


the  north  side  of  Lake  Guija,  abounds  in  productive  iron,  copper,  silver,  and 
zinc  mines. 

Acajutla,  the  outlet  of  this  western  division  of  Salvador,  lies  on  the  west  side 
of  a  spacious  bay,  open  to  the  western  and  southern  winds.  Despite  its  exposed 
position,  Acajutla  has  become  the  largest  seaport  in  the  state,  shipping  coffee  and 
other  produce  in  exchange  for  foreign  manxjfactured  wares.  It  is  the  seaward 
terminus  of  the  first  railway  built  in  >Salv;;dor,  which  runs  north  to  Sonsonate  and 
Armenia,  the  ancient  Giiaymoco,  and  which  is  ultimately  to  effect  a  junction  with 
the  projected  trunk  line  from  Mexico  to  Panama.  A  branch  in  course  of  con- 
struction runs  through  the  Guayuiwd  towards  the  flourishing  coffee  plantations  of 
Santa  Ana,  whence  the  main  highway  leads  to  San  Sahadur,  capital  of  the 

This  place  was  originally  founded  in  1525  in  the  Suchitoto  valley,  much 
farther  north  than  its  present  position  in  the  fertile  plain,  2,300  feet  above  the 
sea,  at  the  east  foot  of  the  San  Salvador  volcano.  The  district,  covered  with  coffee 
and  other  plantations,  is  watered  by  the  Aselguate,  a  southern  affluent  of  the  Rio 
Lempa,  while  immediately  to  the  south  other  streams  flow  in  parallel  channels 
down  to  the  Pacific.  The  city  thus  stands  on  the  waterparting,  and  has  the 
further  advantage  of  occupying  a  strong  central  position,  defended  by  wide  and 
deep  barrancas  of  extremely  difflcult  access.  But  the  district  is  exposed  to 
frequent  and  violent  earthquakes,  by  which  San  Salvador  has  been  twice  destroyed 
during  the  present  century.  On  these  occasions,  many  of  the  inhabitants  sought 
refuge  elsewhere,  and  especially  at  Santa  Tecla,  nine  miles  to  the  north-west. 

Santa  Tecla  thus  became  the  temporary  capital,  and  even  received  the  name  of 
Nuevo  San  Salvador,  but  being  equally  exposed  to  underground  disturbances,  as 
well  as  to  volcanic  eruptions,  it  scarcely  offered  much  more  security  than  the  first 
place,  which  has  been  rebuilt  of  wood,  on  a  principle  of  elastic  frames  calculated 
to  resist  sudden  shocks.  San  Salvador  has  now  resumed  its  position  as  seat  of 
the  administration,  but  has  not  yet  recovered  the  population  of  30,000  which  it 
possessed  about  the  middle  of  the  century.  It  communicates  by  a  well-kept  road 
with  its  seaport  of  La  Libertad,  an  exposed  roadstead,  where  the  shipping  rides  at 
anchor  in  the  surf  over  half  a  mile  from  the  shore. 

East  of  the  capital  the  main  route  passes  north  of  Lake  Ilopango  to  Coju- 
tepeqne,  an  Indian  town,  followed  successively  by  Jihoa  and  San  Vicente,  the 
latter  founded  in  1638  on  a  wesiern  affluent  of  the  lower  Lempa  on  the  site  of  the 
ancient  Aztec  city  of  Tehuacan.  The  ruins  of  this  place,  known  bj'  the  name  of 
Opieo,  stand  on  a  lateral  terrace  of  the  San  Vicente  volcano.  The  route  leads 
thence  through  Sacatecoluca  to  the  port  of  Concordia,  at  the  mouth  of  the  Rio 

In  the  marshy  and  insalubrious  valley  of  the  Lempa  there  are  no  centres  of 
population,  the  nearest  towns  being  Suchitoto,  Ilohasco,  and  Sensiintepeque,  which 
stand  on  breezy  headlands,  whei-e  the  temperature  is  lower  than  in  the  low-lying 
fluvial  basin.  Chalatcnango,  the  only  town  in  the  northern  district  between  the 
Lempa  and  the  Sumpul,  lies  also  at  some  distance  from  the  mainstream. 



East  of  the  Lcmpu  tlie  largest  place  is  Chinameca,  which  is  inhabited  by 
Tndiaus  and  half-castes.  San  Miguel,  lying  farther  east  on  the  river  of  that 
name,  derives  some  importance  from   its  fairs,  which  are  frequented  by  traders 

from  all  parts  of  Central  America  and  Mexico.  Its  seaport  of  La  Union  stands  on 
one  of  the  numerous  sheltered  inlets  of  Fonseca  Bay,  where  excellent  anchorage  is 
afforded  at  about  a  mile  from  the  shore. 


Economic  Condition  of  Salvador. 

Despite  its  foreign  wars  and  civil  strife,  Salvador  is  a  prosperous  country,  as 
shown  by  tlie  rapid  increase  of  population  unaided  by  any  foreign  immigration. 
Since  1778,  when  it  was  originally  returned  at  117,436,  tbe  population  has 
certainly  more  than  quadrupled,  the  census  of  1886  yielding  over  651,000,  and  the 
estimate  for  1890  being  at  least  675,000,  or  about  70  inhabitants  per  square  mile. 
At  the  same  proportion  the  United  States  would  have  a  population  of  from 
340,000,000  to  350,000,000,  instead  of  63,000,000  according  to  the  census  of 

Recently  Salvador  has  given  a  striking  proof  of  its  vitality  by  the  ease  with 
which  it  has  accomplished  a  great  economic  revolution.     Till  lately  its  revenue 

Fig.  110. — Denbitt  of  the  Popdiation  op  Salvadok. 
Scale  1  :  2,700,000. 



Inhabitants  to  the  Square  Mile. 

a  ffl  ffl 

40  to  60.  60  to  80.  SO  to  120. 

Each  square  represents  a  population  of  50O. 

•  Towns  of  over  20,000  inhabitimta. 

120  and  upwards. 

60  Miles. 

depended  mainly  on  indigo,  its  only  article  of  export.  But  since  the  discovery  of 
the  various  coal-tar  dyes  superseding  the  use  of  indigo,  the  Salvador  planters  have 
had  to  abandon  its  cultivation  and  replace  it  chiefly  by  coffee  and  sugar.  The 
yield  of  the  silver  mines  has  also  contributed  to  pay  for  the  textiles,  hardware, 
corn,  and  other  articles  imported  from  abroad.  The  total  value  of  the  exchanges 
is  about  £4  per  head  of  the  population,  amounting  in  1890  to  over  £2,250,000. 

Inland  traffic  is  facilitated  by  carriage-roads  with  a  total  length  of  2,700 
miles  in  1890,  but  in  the  same  year  there  were  only  36  miles  of  railways.  The 
telegraph  and  postal  services  are  also  in  a  backward  state,  though  education,  now 
gratuitous  and  obligatory,  is  making  considerable  progress.  In  1889  the  schools 
were  attended  by  over  40,000  scholars,  or  one-eighteenth  of  the  whole  population, 

nOXDUEAS.  255 

exclusive  of  1,300  frequenting  the  tigh  schools  and  180  following  the  courses  of 
the  national  university  in  the  capital. 

Salvador  has  been  an  independent  state  only  since  1859,  and  even  since  then 
its  constitution,  which  should  be  representative,  has  been  frequently  modified  or 
superseded  by  a  military  government  tempered  by  insurrections.  In  theory  the 
legislative  power  is  vested  in  a  national  assemblj-  of  42  members,  elected  for 
one  year  by  popular  suffrage,  while  the  executive  is  exercised  by  a  president,  who 
is  also  elected  by  the  people,  but  for  four  years,  and  who  chooses  his  own  ministrj', 
consisting  of  four  secretaries  of  state. 

The  standing  army  comprises  about  2,000  of  all  arms,  with  a  militia  nominally 
40,000  strong.  The  administration  of  justice  is  entrusted  to  a  supreme  court 
situated  in  the  capital,  with  courts  of  appeal  at  Santa  Ana,  Cojutepeque,  and  San 
Miguel,  tribunals  of  first  instance  for  each  of. the  three  judiciary  districts,  and 
justices  of  the  peace  for  the  towns  and  communes. 

As  in  most  American  states,  the  revenue  is  mainly  derived  from  the  customs, 
about  one-third  being  contributed  by  monopolies  on  tobacco  and  spirits.  Not 
more  than  a  fourth  of  the  national  income  is  absorbed  by  the  army,  a  proportion 
less  than  that  expended  on  education  and  public  works.  In  1890  the  debt 
amounted  to  £1,300,000. 

Under  the  Spanish  regime  Salvador  formed  part  of  the  viceroyalty  of  Guate- 
mala, comprising  the  four  provinces  of  Sonsonate,  San  Salvador,  San  "Vicente, 
and  San  Miguel.  At  present,  the  republic  is  divided  into  fourteen  adminis- 
trative departments,  grouped  under  three  divisions,  for  which  see  Appendix. 

lY. — Honduras. 

The  verj'  name  of  Honduras  recalls  the  times  of  the  discovery,  when  the 
Spanish  pilots,  advancing  cautiously  along  the  coasts,  reported  shallow  soundings 
{Jionduras)  in  the  waters  at  the  head  of  Honduras  Bay.  Columbus,  who  in  1502 
first  explored  these  waters  between  Capes  Caxinas  (Honduras)  and  Gracias-a-Dios, 
ran  great  risks  amid  the  surrounding  reefs  and  shoals.  But  its  present  name  was 
given  to  the  seaboard  not  by  Columbus,  but  by  Bartholomew  de  las  Casas,  who  in 
his  Discovery  of  the  West  Indies  by  the  Spaniards,  speaks  of  the  land  of 
"  Hondure,"  as  if  this  name  were  of  Indian  origin.  Twenty-two  years  later,  at 
the  time  of  Fernan  Cortes'  famous  expedition  across  Yucatan,  the  country  was 
known  to  the  Spaniards  by  the  name  of  Hibueras  or  Higueras,  and  it  has  also  been 
called  "  New  Estremadura  " 

After  forming  part  of  the  Guatemalan  viceroyalty,  Honduras  was  separated 
from  the  mother  country  with  the  rest  of  Central  America,  and  at  present  forms 
one  of  the  five  sister  republics.  But  despite  its  natural  advantages  of  cL'mate, 
central  position  and  excellent  harbours  on  both  oceans,  its  progress  has  been 
relatively  slow.  Under  the  Spanish  rule  the  seaports  and  cultivated  plains  on 
the  Atlantic  side  attracted  the  attention  of  the  corsairs  by  whom  these  coast- 
lands   were   ravaged  for  a  great  distance    inland.      The  country  has,  doubtless. 



been  gradually  resettled,  but  the  bighest  estimates  assign  it  a  population  of  not 
more  tban  six  pei'sons  to  the  square  mile. 

Physical  Features. 

Like  Guatemala,  Honduras  is  of  triangular  shape,  but  its  position  is  reversed, 
60  that  its  base  rests  on  the  Atlantic,  and  its  apex  reaches  the  Pacihc  at  Fonseca  Bay. 

The  limits  of  the  state  are,  how- 
Fig.  in. -Ixteeoceanio  Wateepaetixg,  IIoxdukas.        g^gj.^    almost    everywhere    indi- 

Sc.ile  1  :  480,000.  ,      T  ,  ,  '  .  .  ,  , . 

cated,  not  by  conventional  lines  as 
elsewhere,  but  by  such  natural 
featui-es  as  mountains  and  river 
valleys.  In  the  north-west  it  is 
separated  from  Guatemala  bj'  a 
winding  frontier,  which,  while 
assigning  to  Honduras  the  Guate- 
malan valley  of  Copan,  coincides 
in  a  general  way  with  the  crests 
of  the  Merendon,  Espiritu  Santo 
and  Grita  ranges,  beyond  which 
it  follows  the  course  of  the  Rio 
Tinto  to  a  secondary  inlet  of 
Honduras  Bay. 

Towards  Salvador  the  frontier 
is  formed  m.ainly  by  the  Rivers 
Sumpul,  Lempa,  Tonola  and  Goas- 
coran,  and  towards  Xicaragua  by 
the  Rio  Negro  on  the  Pacific  side, 
and  by  the  Ocotal  and  Segovia 
on  the  Atlantic  slope,  the  common 
waterparting  being  indicated  by 
the  Dipilto  range. 

The  interior  is  Still  imperfectly 
known,  but  the  country  may,  in 
a  general  way,  be  said  to  be  di- 
vided into  two  unequal  slopes  by 
a  sierra  madre  disposed  parallel 
with,  and  at  a  mean  distance  of 
about  GO  miles  from,  the  Pacific  coast.  This  range  is  much  more  precipitous  on 
the  Pacific  than  on  the  Atlantic  side,  so  that  the  south  side  should  be  regarded 
rather  as  the  escarpment  of  a  plateau  carved  into  distinct  masses  by  streams 
flowing  north  to  the  Caribbean  Sea. 

Towards  the  west  or  Guatemalan  frontier  the  Sierra  de  Pacaya  (6,600  feet) 
branches  off  from  the  Merendon  range  and  farther  on  merges  in  the  Sierra  de 
Selaque,   round   which  the   running  waters  diverge  in   all  directions.     Here  the 

12  Miles. 


Honduras  orographic  system  appears  to  culminate  in  several  peaks  exceeding  10,000 
feet  in  height.  Farther  on  the  uplands  fall  and  again  rise  in  the  direction  of  the 
east,  where  they  develop  the  Opalaca  and  San  Juan  ranges.  At  the  extremity  of 
this  chain  is  opened  the  great  depression  forming  the  natural  highway  of  communi- 
cation between  the  two  fluvial  basins  of  Humuya  on  the  north,  and  Goascoran  on 
the  south.  Here  the  waterparting  is  indicated  only  by  the  relatively  low  passes 
of  Guajoca  (2,300  feet)  and  Eancho  Chiquito  (2,400),  which  are  already  traversed 
by  a  road,  and  which  will  probably  soon  be  crossed  by  a  railway  of  easy  ascent  and 
free  from  tunnels. 

Eocks  of  tertiary  formation  overlying  the  older  strata  recall  the  epoch  when 
this  depression  was  still  flooded  by  a  channel  flowing  between  the  two  oceans  when 
Central  America  formed  a  chain  of  islands,  not,  as  at  present,  a.  continuous 

Beyond  the  depression  the  main  range,  here  called  the  Sierra  Lepaterlque, 
soon  ramifies  into  a  northern  and  a  southern  chain,  the  former  running  north-east 
to  Cape  Gracias-a-Dios,  the  latter  southwards  to  the  main  range  of  Nicaragua. 

The  igneous  system,  which  in  Salvador  and  Nicaragua  runs  between  the  main 
range  and  the  Pacific  coast,  disappears  altogether  on  the  Honduras  mainland,  but 
is  represented  in  the  islets  of  Fonseca  Bay.  A  slight  upheaval  of  the  marine  bed 
would  suflice  to  connect  Sacate  Grande  and  the  other  volcanoes  in  this  bay  with 
the  opposite  coast.  Sacate  Grande,  largest  of  the  group,  rises  to  a  height  of  2,000 
feet,  while  the  neighbouring  Tiger  Island  is  600  feet  higher. 

On  tbe  Atlantic  side  the  Merendon  main  range  is  continued  north-westwards 
by  the  long  crest  of  the  Espiritu  Santo  and  Grita  chains,  which  run  at  a  mean 
altitude  of  over  6,700  feet  between  the  valleys  of  the  Guatemalan  Rio  Motagua  and 
the  Honduras  Bio  Chamelicon.  The  system  rises  probably  to  10,000  feet  in  the  Omoa 
group,  which  forms  its  seaward  terminus  near  the  port  of  Omoa.  A  northern 
spur  of  the  Opalaca  hills  terminates  in  the  huge  and  nearly  isolated  bluff  of 
Mount  Puca,  while  the  San  Juan  crags,  dominating  the  interoceanic  depression, 
are  continued  in  the  same  northerly  direction  by  the  MonteciUos  and  the  Sierra  de 
Canchia,  which  confront  the  Comayagua  Mountains  on  the  opposite  side  of  the 

Eastwards  the  Lepaterique  hills  are  connected  with  the  central  mass  of  the 
Sierra  de  Chile,  whence  various  ridges  ramify  between  deep  valleys  in  diflerent 
directions.  Lastly,  the  parting-line  between  Honduras  and  Nicaragua  is  formed 
by  the  Cordillera  de  Dipilto,  which  is  continued  seawards  to  the  converging  point 
of  the  rectilinear  Honduras  and  Mosquitia  shore-lines. 

In  the  interior  of  the  state  the  Sierra  Misoco  runs  due  north-east  nearlj' 
parallel  with  the  Sulaco  and  Pija  ridges,  and  Mount  Paya,  rising  to  a  height  of 
3,730  feet,  near  Cape  Cameron,  probablj*  belongs  to  a  branch  of  the  same  system. 
On  the  northern  edge  of  the  Honduras  plateau  the  Congrehoy  ridge,  which  cul- 
minates in  a  peak  8,200  feet  high,  seems  to  form  a  distinct  chain  disposed  parallel 
with  the  neighbo\iring  Baj-  Islands. 

Some  of  the  mountains  of  the  interior  have  been  spoken  of  as  volcanoes,  but 

VOL.   XVII.  s 


they  have  never  been  seen  in  eruption,  nor  have  they  j'et  been  ascended  by  any 
scientific  explorer.  Such  pretended  volcanoes  are  Teapasemi  (3,000  feet),  in  the 
Dipilto  range,  about  midway  between  the  two  oceans,  the  Guaymaca  and  Boqueron 
heights  in  the  Misoco  chain. 

Rivers,  Islands,  Inlets. 

Honduras,  being  well  exposed  to  the  Atlantic  rains,  is  traversed  by  numerous 
watercourses,'  nor  are  there  any  closed  basins,  as  in  Mexico  and  Guatemala.  In 
the  west  the  first  copious  stream  is  the  Chamelicon  (Chamlico),  which  flows  from 
the  Merendon  Hills  parallel  with  the  Motagua  of  Guatemala,  terminating,  after  a 
rapid  course  of  over  160  miles,  in  a  delta  connected  by  one  branch  with  the 
Puerto-Caballos  lagoon.  The  Chamelicon  might  almost  be  regarded  as  an 
aflfluent  of  the  Ulua,  its  lower  course  running  for  30  miles  parallel  with  that 
stream  through  the  same  low-lying  plain,  where  their  waters  are  intermingled 
during  the  floods. 

But  apart  from  the  Chamelicon,  the  Ulua  is  the  largest  river  in  Honduras,  its 
catchment  basin  comprising  about  a  third  of  the  whole  state,  and  occupying  all 
the  space  between  the  llerendon  and  Chile  ranges.  From  the  west  it  is  joined 
by  the  Santiago  (Yenta),  swollen  by  the  E,io  Santa  Barbara,  and  various  emissaries 
from  the  great  Lake  Yojoa.  From  the  south  comes  the  Humuya,  which  may  be 
regarded  as  the  main  branch  ;   from  the  east,  the  Sulaco. 

Lake  Yojoa  (Taulebe)  has  the  form  of  an  upland  valley  disposed  crescent-shape 
from  south  to  north,  and  without  any  visible  afiluent  at  low  water.  But  during 
the  floods  it  rises  to  a  great  height,  sending  its  overflow  through  the  Jaitique  at 
its  south-eastern  extremity  to  the  Santa  Barbara.  But  there  are  other  outlets  by 
which  its  waters  also  escape,  disappearing  in  the  2^0^08  or  cavities  of  the  sur- 
rounding fossiliferous  limestone  rocks  and  reappearing  lower  down  as  tributaries 
of  the  Santa  Barbara.  According  to  Stanton  and  Edwards,  there  are  no  less  than 
nine  of  these  underground  emissaries  all  flowing  during  the  rainy  season  to  the 
headstreams  of  the  Ulua. 

Durioff  the  floods  the  Ulua  is  accessible  to  small  steamers  as  far  as  the  Sulaco 


confluence ;  but  the  bar  at  its  mouth  has  scarcely  more  than  three  feet  of  water, 
so  that  shipping  is  obliged  to  anchor  at  some  distance  from  the  estuary. 

The  next  large  river  going  east  from  the  Ulua  is  the  Aguan  or  Romano,  which 
enters  the  sea  through  two  channels  between  Capes  Honduras  (Caxinas)  and 
Cameron.  The  Romano,  which  is  said  to  have  a  course  of  over  120  miles,  traverses 
a  forest  region  of  great  sylvan  beauty  abounding  in  auriferous  sands.  But  it  Is 
a  less  copious  stream  than  the  Patuca,  whose  various  sources  flow  from  the  Misoco 
and  Chile  ranges  and  unite  in  a  single  channel  above  the  formidable  gorge  of  the 
Portal  del  Infierno,  or  "  Hell-gate."  From  this  point  the  Patuca  is  navigable  for 
the  rest  of  its  course  to  its  mouth,  which  presents  the  same  dlfla.culties  as  those  of 
all  the  other  estuaries  along  this  coast. 

The  abundjiut  alluvia  of  the  EIo  Patuca  have  advanced  in  a  sharp  point  beyond 
the  normal  shore-line,  enclosing  right  and  left  shallow  marine  lagoons,  which 



communicate  through  several  channels  \rith  the  open  sea.  On  the  west  is  the 
Bnis  (Brewer)  lagoon ;  on  the  east  the  much  larger  Caratasca  (Cartago)  basin, 
with  a  depth  of  16  feet  in  the  centre.  The  grassy  shores  of  these  inlets  are  dotted 
over  with  clumps  of  fir  and  other  trees,  giving  the  landscape  the  aspect  of  an 
English  park. 

Although  everywhere  navigable,  the  Honduras  waters  rest  on  a  submarine 
bed  scarcely  more  than  50  fathoms  deep,  with  banks,  reefs,  and  islets  rising 
above  the  surface.  This  plateau  extends  seawards  for  a  mean  distance  of  about 
18   or  20    miles,    when  the   sounding-line    plimges    suddenly   iuto    depths   of 

Fig.  112.— Bat  Isla^-ds. 
Scale  1  : 1,500,000. 


0  to  100 

100  Fathoms 
and  apwanls. 

_^_  SO  Miles. 

500  fathoms.  Beyond  Cape  Cameron  the  shallows  extend  to  ilosquito  Bank, 
which  projects  for  nearly  130  miles  ia  the  direction  of  Jamaica.  The  plateau, 
which  has  an  average  depth  of  "about  20  fathoms,  reproduces  east  of  Honduras 
the  same  limestone  formation  as  the  submerged  terrace  encircling  the  Yucatan 

Above  the  submariae  bed  rises  a  long  line  of  coralline  islets,  which  are 
collectively  called  the  Bay  Islands,  but  of  which  one  alone,  UtUa,  deserves  the 
name  of  island.  Utila  stands  at  the  western  extremity  of  the  group,  at  the  very 
edge  of  the  plateau,  where  the  soundings  suddenly  reveal  depths  of  over  200  fathoms 



on  the  north  side.  Roatan,  Elena,  Barbareta  (Borburata),  Bonaca  and  the  other 
members  of  the  group  all  lie  in  deep  water,  and  are  disposed  in  the  direction  from 
west-south-west  to  east-north-east.  Roatan,  which  is  by  far  the  largest,  is  30 
miles  long,  and  is  continued  eastwards  by  Elena  and  Barbareta.  Although 
scarcely  a  mile  wide,  Roatan  has  a  few  hills,  culminating  westwards  in  an  eminence 
800  feet  high.  Bonaca  (Guanaja),  the  lala  de  Pinos  of  Columbus,  which  lies  at 
the  eastern  extremity  of  the  group,  is  still  more  elevated,  its  pine-clad  granite 
peak  rising  to  a  height  of  1,200  feet. 

On  the  southern  slope  of  Honduras,  the  two  most  copious  streams  are  the 
Goascoran,  the  lower  course  of  which  forms  the  boundary-line  towards  Salvador, 
and  the  Choluteca,  whose  basin  is  entirely  comprised  within  Honduras  territorj^ 

The  Choluteca  flows  from  the  Lepaterique  hills  to  the  marine  inlet,  to  which. 
In  1522,  GO.  Gonzalez  de  Avila  gave  the  name  of  Fonseca,  in  honour  of  Cortes' 
relentless  enemy,  Bishop  Fonseca.  This  vast  basin  has  a  superficial  area  of  over 
800  square  miles,  with  a  breadth  of  22  miles  between  the  two  outer  headlands  of 
Coseguina  and  Amapala.  The  narrowest  of  the  four  navigable  passages  by  which 
it  communicates  with  the  sea  is  about  two  miles  wide  between  the  Conchagua 
and  Conchaguita  volcanoes,  with  a  mean  depth  of  about  40  feet.  Within  these 
passages  the  gulf  develops  several  secondary  inlets,  such  as  those  of  L'Estero  Real 
and  La  Union,  the  former  penetrating  south-eastwards  into  Nicaragua,  the  latter 
north-westwards  into  Salvador.  Above  the  surface  rise  several  reefs  and  islands, 
conspicuous  amongst  which  is  the  symmetrical  cone  of  Tiger  Island.  Notwith- 
standing its  great  extent,  the  Gulf  of  Fonseca  is  too  shallow  to  be  regarded  as  a 
marine  basin  ;  it  is  probably  little  more  than  a  flooded  depression,  nowhere  more 
than  ten  fathoms  deep,  and  navigable  only  by  vessels  of  moderate  draught. 

Climate,  Fi-ora,  Fauna. 

Owing  to  its  mean  elevation  of  at  least  3,000  feet  above  the  sea,  Honduras 
enjoys  a  comparatively  temperate  climate,  though  the  low-lying  coastlands  are 
oppressively  hot  and  insalubrious.  The  Atlantic  seaboard  especially  suffers  from 
the  excess  of  moisture  brought  by  the  vapour-charged  trade  winds.  Here  the 
mean  temperature  ranges  from  75°  to  82°  Fahr.,  whereas  it  is  scarcely  more  than 
68°  at  the  capital,  Tegucigalpa,  which  stands  at  an  altitude  of  3,320  feet.  Accord- 
ing to  Squier,  the  annual  rainfall  on  the  Atlantic  slope  is  about  120  inches. 

The  Central  American  flora  and  fauna  differ  in  details  only  at  their  two 
exiremities,  the  isthmuses  of  Tehuantepec  and  Darien.  But  here  and  there  sharp 
transitions  occur  between  the  species,  and  in  certain  regions  the  secondary 
differences  between  the  various  orffanic  forms  are  more  numerous  than  elsewhere. 
Such  is  the  case  in  central  Honduras,  where  the  Humuya  and  Goascoran  valleys 
with  the  intermediate  depression  constitute  a  natural  biological  parting-line.  Hero 
the  flora  and  fauna  on  either  side  often  present  remarkable  contrasts.  One  of  the 
characteristic  Honduras  trees  is  the  pine,  which  occurs  in  all  the  upland  districts, 
and  even  on  both  slopes  down  to  the  vicinity  of  the  Pacific  coast.      But  here  it 


does  not  reach  lower  than  an  altihiclc  of  about  1,250  feet,  whereas  on  the  Atlantic 
slopes,  especially  on  the  plains  of  Sula,  it  descends  as  low  as  250  feet,  while  along 
the  watercourses  of  Truxillo  it  is  dotted  over  the  savannas  like  the  clumj^s  of  trees 
characteristic  of  English  scenery. 


About  three-fourths  of  the  population  of  Honduras  appear  to  be  Laiinos,  or 
more  or  loss  civilised  Hispano-American  half-castes.  The  pure  Indian  element 
scarcely  numbers  70,000  altogether,  and  CA'en  these  "  wild  tribes  "  now  live  at 
peace  with  their  Spanish-speaking  rulers,  and  recognise  their  authority.  To  the 
Spanish  conquerors  their  forefathers  had  offered  a  brave  and  steadfast  resistance, 
and  those  of  the  interior  at  least  escaped  extermination,  whereas  most  of  those 
dwelling  on  the  coastlands,  or  along  the  navigable  rivers,  were  carried  away  by  the 
corsairs,  to  perish  on  the  plantations  of  the  West  Indies. 

In  the  western  parts  of  the  republic  the  natives  are  of  the  same  speech  as  those 
of  Guatemala.  Such  are  the  Chorti  of  Copan,  kinsmen  of  the  Pokoman  Mayas. 
The  most  remarkable  historic  ruins  of  Honduras  have  been  discovered  in  their 
territory,  and  the  builders  of  these  monuments  are  supposed  to  have  been  the 
ancestors  of  the  Indians  still  inhabiting  the  district.  Hence  the  Chorti  were 
probably  fully  as  civilised  as  the  Aztecs  and  ilayas,  and  even  if  the  other  natives 
of  Honduras  have  left  no  such  monuments,  they  were  all  at  least  settled  agricul- 
turists and  skilled  artisans.  Various  Aztec  geographical  terms  occurring  in  south 
Honduras  show  that  Aztec  was  regarded  as  the  language  of  culture  in  a  pre- 
eminent sense. 

At  present  the  Honduras  Indians  are  collectively  designated  by  the  name  of 
Lencas.  Tillages  exclusively  inhabited  by  them  are  scattered  over  the  plateau,  and 
are  met  even  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  two  capitals,  Comayagua  and  Teguci- 
galpa. To  the  same  stock  belong  the  Xicacs  (Hicacos),  the  Payas  and  the  Toacas 
of  the  northern  slopes  and  Atlantic  coastlands. 

AU  resemble  each  other  in  their  low  stature,  thickset  frames,  and  extraordinary 
staying  power  as  carriers  of  heavy  loads.  The  Toacas,  who  occupy  the  upper 
afEuents  of  the  Patuca,  and  who  shoot  the  dangerous  rapids  of  that  river  in  their 
light  but  firm  ^j)};rt«/es  of  cedar-wood,  also  produce  excellent  cotton  or  wild  silk 
fabrics  interwoven  with  the  down  of  birds.  They  speak  a  dialect  different  from 
that  of  the  other  Lencas,  as  do  also  the  Xicacs,  who  number  about  5,000  and  keep 
quite  aloof  from  the  Ladinos. 

The  Payas  or  Poyas  of  the  Rio  Negro  near  Cape  Cameron  have  preserved  their 
patriarchal  customs  ;  like  the  Pueblo  Indians  of  'New  ^Mexico  and  Arizona,  they  still 
dwell  in  large  oval  houses  about  80  feet  long  by  30  feet  broad,  in  which  each  family 
has  its  own  apartments.  The  Payas,  like  all  the  other  natives,  call  themselves 
Catholics,  but  this  formal  profession  of  faith  is  merely  an  act  of  submission  to  the 
dominant  white  race. 

After  the  extermination  of  the  coast  Indians  negroes  became  niunerous  along 
the  seaboard.     About  the  beginning  of  the  seventeenth  century  a  large  slaver  was 


said  to  have  been  stranded  near  Cape  Gracias-a-Dios,  and  the  Africans,  escaping 
from  the  wreck,  founded  a  petty  republican  state  in  the  district.  Later  they  were 
joined  by  other  fugitives  from  the  "West  Indies ;  then  some  English  planters 
introduced  slaves  and  founded  settlements  in  the  hope  of  conquering  the  country. 
Gradually  transformed  by  interminglings,  the  whole  of  this  black  population 
consisted  at  the  end  of  the  last  century  mainly  of  Sambos,  that  is,  negro  and 
Indian  half-breeds.  They  were  numerous,  especially  about  the  lower  Patuca  and 
the  neighbouring  Brus  and  Caratasca  lagoons  ;  but  a  great  invasion  drove  most  of 
them  southwards  to  the  Mosquito  Coast  in  Nicaragua. 

The  invaders  were  themselves  exiles,  some  5,000  Carib  Indians  removed  in 
1796  by  the  English  from  St.  Yincent  to  Roatan,  one  of  the  Bay  Islands.  Many 
remained  as  fishers  and  gardeners  on  this  and  other  members  of  the  group,  but  the 
majority  accepted  the  offer  made  them  by  the  Spanish  Government  of  some  lands 
near  Trusillo  on  the  Honduras  coast.  These  Carib  exiles  from  St.  Yincent  have 
gradually  become  the  dominant  race,  not  only  in  the  Baj'  Islands,  but  along  the 
whole  of  the  Honduras  and  Guatemalan  seaboard,  as  well  as  throughout  the 
southern  part  of  British  Honduras.  They  are  at  present  estimated  at  about 
20,000,  and  are  a  thriving  industrious  people,  many  already  owning  sugar  and 
tobacco  plantations  besides  local  factories. 

Nearly  all  are  more  or  less  famihar  with  three  languages,  English,  Spanish, 
and  their  West  Indian  mother-tongue,  which,  however,  appears  to  be  dying  out. 
But  while  these  communities  are  being  gradually  assimilated  to  the  surrounding 
Europcauised  popidations,  there  are  many  other  Honduras  Caribs  who,  while 
callui"  themselves  "  Cristianos,"  still  retain  many  of  the  usages  of  their  pagan 
ancestors.  They  practise  polygamy  on  the  condition  of  assigning  to  each  wife 
her  separate  establishment,  cottage,  and  garden,  and  treating  all  exactly  alike. 

On  the  Atlantic  coast  of  Honduras,  the  English  and  Indian  half-castes  are  the 
most  numerous  element,  and  a  more  or  less  corrupt  form  of  English  is  the 
dominant  language  in  many  districts.  This  is  partly  due  to  the  neighbourhood 
of  Belize,  partly  also  to  the  repeated  attempts  made  by  the  English  Government  to 
acquire  formal  possession  of  the  whole  seaboard.  In  the  last  century  the  Jamaica 
freebooters  had  become  masters  of  the  Eio  Negro  (Tinto  or  Poya),  where  their 
plantations  were  protected  by  a  fort,  which,  however,  they  had  to  evacuate  in 
virtue  of  the  treaty  of  Yersailles. 

But  they  attempted  to  return,  as  they  had  returned  to  Belize,  and  after  seizing 
the  Bay  Islands,  spoke  of  Roatan  as  a  "  new  Gibraltar,"  the  "  key  to  Spanish 
America,"  and  so  forth.  In  1819  Sir  Gregor  Macgregor,  who  had  become  cacique 
of  the  Payas,  settled  on  the  Rio  Negro  and  founded  a  paper  kingdom  embracing  a 
great  part  of  Honduras  and  Nicaragua.  Again  in  1839  an  English  company,  heirs 
to  the  Scottish  cacique,  endeavoured  to  appropriate  the  Atlantic  slope  of  Honduras 
by  founding  the  new  province  of  "  Yictoria,"  with  its  capital,  Fort  "William,  over 
against  the  Bay  Islands.  But  all  these  attempts  at  gaining  a  footing  in  Honduras 
were  brought  to  a  close  by  the  intervention  of  the  United  States  in  1850,  when  the 
disputed  territories  were  restored  to  Hondvu-as. 



Copan,  which  has  given  its  name  to  the  westernmost  department  of  the 
republic,  has  become  famous  for  the  surrounding  ruins,  which  were  first  described 
in  1576  by  Palacio  in  a  report  to  Philip  II.  They  were  then  forgotten  till  the 
present  century,  when  they  were  again  visited  and  described  hy  Galindo,  Stephens, 
and  Catherwood.  The  chief  building  rises  to  a  height  of  GO,  and  in  some  parts 
even  100  feet  on  the  banks  of  the  River  Copan,  three-quarters  of  a  mile  to  the  east 
of  the  village.  Since  its  erection  the  river  has  evidently  shifted  its  bed  farther 
south,  where  it  has  eroded  the  base  of  the  edifice.  Trees  also  spring  from  the 
fissures  in  the  masonry,  while  the  summits  are  entirely  clothed  in  vegetation. 
An  opening,  to  which  the  j^ile  is  indebted  for  its  Spanish  name  of  Las  Vcutanas, 
the  "  Windows,"  reveals  the  dense  thicket  now  filling  the  inner  courts  of  the  temple. 

The  irregular  enclosing  walls  on  the  sides  away  from  the  river  are  flanked  by 
pyramids,  and  interrupted  by  broad  flights  of  steps,  mostly  forced  upwards  by  the 
roots  of  trees.  The  numerous  idols,  which  have  also  been  displaced  or  else  half 
buried  in  foliage,  consist  of  sandstone  monoliths,  carved  with  a  profusion  of  details 
unsurpassed  by  those  of  the  Hindu  temples.  The  central  figure,  of  colossal  size, 
but  carefully  modelled,  is  surrounded  by  reliefs  of  all  kinds,  ornaments,  symbols, 
and  hieroglj-phics,  difi^ering  little  from  those  covering  the  Maya  monuments. 
The  huge  blocks  described  as  altars  are  for  the  most  part  less  elaborately 
embellished  than  the  vertical  steles  of  the  idols  ;  but  most  of  them  reproduce  the 
type  of  high  heads,  prominent  jaws,  and  receding  foreheads  figured  on  the  temples 
of  Tabasco  and  Yucatan. 

Still  more  remarkable  is  a  semicircular  altar,  exactly  like  the  fai-l;i  of  the 
Chinese,  sj-mbolising  the  "  great  vault,"  the  "  pole  of  the  world,"  the  union  of 
force  and  matter,  the  principle  without  beginning  or  end. 

The  whole  group  of  ruins  stretches  for  some  miles  along  the  river,  and  an 
eminence  2,000  feet  high  on  the  opposite  side  is  also  crowned  with  crumbling 
walls,  while  huge  blocks,  intended  for  fresh  structures,  have  been  left  unfinished 
in  the  surrounding  quarries.  The  village  of  Cachapa,  seven  miles  above  Copan, 
also  occupies  the  site  of  a  ruined  city. 

Santa  Rosa,  capital  of  the  department  of  Copan,  lies  in  the  fertile  district  of 
Sensenti,  which  is  watered  by  the  Santiago  branch  of  the  Ulua,  and  which  yields 
the  best  tobacco  in  Honduras.  The  Majocote  afiluent  of  the  same  river  traverses 
Gracias,  which  is  also  the  capital  of  a  department  abounding  in  mineral  w'ealth. 
Gracias  was  founded  by  Alvarado's  lieutenant,  Chavez,  in  1536. 

Santa  Bavhara,  on  a  lateral  tributary  of  the  Santiago,  is  the  chief  town  of  the 
favoured  department  which  comprises  the  rich  plain  of  Sula,  the  alluvial  lauds 
of  the  lower  Ulua  and  Chamelicon,  and  the  best  ports  on  the  Atlantic  coast.  But 
the  Sula  district,  densely  peopled  before  the  conquest,  is  now  almost  deserted, 
though  the  town  of  San  Pedro  de  Sula,  on  the  west  side  of  the  plain,  is  the  most 
important  agricultural  centre  in  the  state. 

The  chief  seaports  in  the  department  of  Santa  Barbara,  and  on  the  whole  sea- 



board  on  the  Atlantic  side,  are  Puerto  Cortes  and  Omoa,  both  of  which  lie  to  the 
west  of  the  Ulua  and  Chamelicon  estuaries.  Puerto  Cortes  owes  its  name  to  the 
Mexican  conqueror,  who  founded  it  at  the  time  of  his  Honduras  expedition  ;  but 
it  is  now  more  commonly  known  as  Puerto  Caballos.  The  harbour  is  enclosed  by 
a  tongue  of  land  projecting  westwards,  and  sheltering  it  from  the  winds  and  surf 
of  the  high  seas.     This  spacious  and  deep  basin  might  easily  be  greatly  enlarged 

Pig-.  113.— Ptteeto  Coetes  and  Lake  Aivaeabo. 

Scale  1  :  60.000. 

SnndB  exposed 
at  low  water. 


0  to  5  Stathoms 

Fathoms.  and  upwiirda- 

—^  1, ICO  Yards. 

by  the  Alvarado  lagoon,  with  which  it  already  communicates  through  a  channel 
about  six  feet  deep. 

But  despite  its  manifold  advantages,  Puerto  Caballos,  being  exposed  to  the  attacks 
of  the  buccaneers,  was  long  abandoned  for  the  more  ea.sily  protected  port  of  Omoa, 
which  is  approached  by  a  narrow  passage  six  miles  farther  west.  Now,  however, 
Puerto  Caballos  has  resumed  its  former  importance  as  the  terminus  of  a  railway  run- 
ning southwards  to  San  Pedro  de  Sula  for  Comayagua,  and  eventually  for  the  Pacific 
coast.  Naco,  famous  at  the  time  of  the  conquest,  has  disappeared,  but  it  probably 
stood  at  the  mouth  of  the  Chamelicon, 


Puerto  Sal  and  Tn'unfo,  lying  east  of  the  Ulua,  are  merely  exposed  roadsteads, 
followed  by  the  much  more  frequented  port  of  Progreso,  which  is  formed  hx  an 
indentation  on  the  south  side  of  Eoatan  Island,  penfectly  sheltered  from  all 
winds,  but  a  hotbed  of  deadly  fevers. 

Truxillo,  founded  in  1524,  and  chosen  as  the  capital  of  the  new  department  of 
Colon,  is  also  well  protected  from  the  trade  winds  by  a  promontory  disposed,  like 
that  of  Puerto  Caballos,  from  east  to  west,  and  enclosing  a  basia  accessible  to  the 
largest  vessels.  But  the  town  is  a  mere  collection  of  huts,  inhabited  by  a  few 
hundred  Caribs,  who  are  engaged  in  the  export  trade  of  mahogany,  sarsaparilla, 
cattle,  hides,  and  other  produce  brought  down  by  convoys  of  mules  from  the  mag- 
nificent province  of  Olancho. 

This  highly-favoured  upland  region,  watered  by  the  headstreams  of  the  Patuca 
and  Eomano  rivers,  enjoys  a  perfectly  salubrious  climate ;  its  soil  is  extremely 
fertile,  forest  glades  and  woodlands  alternating  with  rich  arable  tracts  and 
savannas  under  succulent  herbage,  while  copious  streams  flow  through  every 
valley,  washing  down  auriferous  sands  from  the  wooded  and  picturesque  slopes  of 
the  encircling  heights.  On  an  affluent  of  the  Patuca  stands  the  little  town  of 
JutigaljM,  and  in  the  neighbourhood  the  Indian  village  of  Cafacamas,  the  products 
of  whose  industry  might  be  forwarded  northwards  by  the  Eomano  Yalley  to 
Truxillo,  south-westwards  by  the  mountain  passes  leading  down  to  the  Gioluteca 
Yalley,  and  north-westwards  by  the  Patuca  river,  accessible  to  the  Carib  canoes 
to  the  port  of  Belon,  within  a  few  leagues  of  Jutigalpa.  Yet,  with  all  its 
exceptional  advantages,  this  glorious  region  is  stUl  almost  deserted.  For  the  whole 
of  the  extensive  department  of  Olancho,  the  last  census  returned  a  population  of 
little  over  30,000,  while  that  of  Colon,  comprising  all  the  noith-west  comer  of 
Honduras,  is  occupied  by  less  than  3,000  natives ;  altogether  scarcely  35,000  in 
a  region  where  millions  might  easily  be  supported  without  any  overcrowding,  as 
in  some  of  the  "\Yest  India  Islands  under  the  same  latitude. 

Comai/agiia,  chief  town  of  the  department  of  like  name,  and  former  capital  of 
the  republic,  stands  at  an  altitude  of  2,000  feet  on  an  extensive  plain  about  mid- 
way between  the  two  oceans.  Founded  in  1540  by  Alonzo  Caceres,  Niiera  Val/a- 
dolid,  as  it  was  fonnerly  called,  was  a  prosperous  city  of  nearly  20,000  inhabitants 
before  the  year  1827,  when  it  was  besieged,  taken,  and  sacked  by  the  Guatemalan 
"  Serviles."  It  never  recovered  from  that  blow,  and  at  present  its  chief  attractions 
are  the  numerous  ruins  of  ancient  cities  by  which  it  is  everywhere  surrounded. 
Of  these  the  most  remarkable  is  Tenamjiua  (Piieb/o  Viejo),  standing  on  a  lofty 
eminence  nearly  20  miles  south-east  of  Comayagua,  and  comprising  within  its 
enclosures  a  number  of  apparently  religious  edifices,  pyramids,  terraces,  sculptures, 
and  much  painted  pottery. 

West  of  the  department  of  La  Paz,  whose  present  capital,  La  Paz,  stands  on  the 
site  of  the  ancient  city  of  Las  Piedras,  the  chief  place  towards  the  Salvador  frontier 
is  Esperanza,  not  far  from  the  famous  Erandique  opal  mines.  Xear  Virtiid,  in  the 
same  hiUy  district  of  Intibucat,  is  seen  the  remarkable  cave  of  the  "  Agua  de 
Sangre,"  a  red  fluid  which  coagulates  as  it  falls  and  then  putrefies,  emitting  an 


odour  of  blood.  Tho  liquid,  which  owes  its  colour  and  peculiar  properties  to  the 
living  organisms  contained  in  it,  affords  a  certain  nourishment  to  birds  and  other 

The  most  densely-peopled  part  of  Honduras  is  the  basia  of  the  Choluteca  river, 
which  descends  to  the  Pacific  at  the  Gulf  of  Fonseca.  The  iipper  portion  of  the 
basin,  which  forms  a  natural  transition  between  Salvador  and  Nicaragua  west  and 
east,  comprises  the  department  of  Tegucigalpa,  which  gives  its  name  to  the  present 
capital  of  the  republic.  This  place  almost  suddenly  acquired  great  importance  in 
the  year  1762  as  the  centre  of  a  region  abounding  in  gold  and  silver  mines. 
Between  1778  and  1819  the  Tegucigalpa  district  yielded  nearly  £40,000,000  to 
the  trade  of  the  world,  and  mining  operations,  interrupted  by  wars,  revolutions, 
and  oscillations  in  the  value  of  the  precious  metals,  have  in  recent  times  again 
been  actively  resumed. 

Teo^ucigalpa,  chosen  in  1880  as  the  seat  of  congress,  and  even  designated  as  a 
future  capital  of  the  Central  American  Confederation,  is  by  far  the  largest  place  in 
the  republic,  and  is  increasing  from  year  to  year.  It  rises  in  amphitheatrical  form 
at  the  foot  of  a  steep  mountain  on  the  right  bank  of  the  Choluteca,  which  is  here 
crossed  by  a  ten-arched  bridge.  Concepcion,  on  the  opposite  side  of  the  river, 
forms  an  integral  part  of  the  city. 

Two  other  departments,  also  abounding  in  mineral  resources,  are  comprised 
within  the  Choluteca  basin.  One  of  those,  whose  capital,  Yuscaran,  dates  from  the 
middle  of  the  eighteenth  century,  has  received  the  well-merited  designation  of 
Paraiso,  or  "Paradise,"  while  the  other  takes  the  name  of  the  river  and  of  the 
Indian  nation  dwelling  on  its  banks ;  Choluteca,  its  capital,  on  the  left  side  of 
the  estuary,  was  the  Xo-es  de  la  Fronfera  of  the  early  settlers. 

Nacaomc,  on  the  river  of  like  name,  which  also  flows  into  the  Gulf  of  Fonseca, 
but  much  farther  west,  is  noted  for  its  mineral  waters.  Its  port  of  San  Lorenzo 
stands  at  the  northern  extremity  of  the  inlet  of  like  name,  where  shipping  finds 
good  anchorage  in  depths  of  22  to  24  feet  close  to  the  shore.  One  of  the  projected 
interoceanic  railways  has  its  terminus  at  this  port ;  another  is  carried  over  the  Rio 
Nacaome  near  its  mouth,  and,  after  crossing  the  marshy  backwaters  between 
Gueo-ensi  and  Sacate  Grande  and  the  mainland,  terminates  on  the  west  side  of  the 
latter  island  over  against  a  vast  roadstead  some  20  square  miles  in  extent,  and 
from  30  to  50  feet  deep,  close  to  the  future  terminus. 

Pending  the  construction  of  this  important  line,  Amapala,  the  seaport  of 
Honduras  on  the  Pacific,  stands  on  the  north-west  side  of  Tiger  Island,  at  one  time 
a  stronghold  of  tho  buccaneers.  Sacate  Grande  and  Tiger  Islands  both  belonged 
formerly  to  Salvador,  which  allowed  Honduras  to  occupy  them  in  1833  in  return 
for  her  co-operation  in  tho  local  wars. 

Economic  Condition  of  Honduras. 
Although  fully  one-half  of  Honduras  is  still  almost  a  vast  solitude,  its  popu- 
lation has  increased  at  least  threefold  since  the  beginning  of  the  century.      The 
first  census,  taken  in   1791,  gave  a  population  of  95,500,  while  the   last  (June, 

■  ■ 







'•*^  v/«>*^*'*7  '•'.••>*/.%-'•  •^•^ 

'#  ■  «• 



1887)  returned  a  total  of  332,000,  of  whom  nearly  three-fourths  were  Ladinos. 
The  stream  of  immigration  has  not  yet  been  directed  to  the  state,  and  in  the 
whole  country  there  are  scarcely  500  foreigners,  apart  from  the  so-caUed  "English" 
immigrants  from  Belize  and  Jamaica. 

Honduras  has  developed  no  industries,  and  even  its  agricultural  produce 
scarcely  suflSces  for  more  than  the  local  demand.  The  banana,  caoutchouc  and 
coffee  plantations  have,  however,  in  recent  years  acquired  some  importance,  while 
the  tobacco  of  Copan  and  Santa  Rosa  has  long  been  appreciated.  Xext  to  gold 
and  silver,   the  chief   staple    of  the    export    trade  was   timber,  especially  the 

Fig.  114. — FoNSECA  Bay. 

Scale  1  :  1,C«0.0C0. 

West-oF  GreenwicK 



5  to  12 


12  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

,  IS  iines. 

mahogany,  which  reaches  its  greatest  perfection  in  the  forests  of  Honduras. 
But  the  finest  trees  have  been  recklessly  felled  without  any  attempt  at  replanting, 
and  as  maho<ninv  takes  three  himdred  vears  to  arrive  at  matuiitv,  the  sources  of 
supply  threaten  to  be  soon  exhausted. 

The  Honduras  exchanges  are  estimated  at  a  yearly  value  of  about  £1,200,000, 
the  exports  consisting  of  minerals,  cattle,  and  products  of  the  soU,  the  imports 
almost  exclusively  of  manufactured  goods.  Five-sixths  of  the  foreign  trade  is 
carried  on  with  the  United  States. 

Owing  to  the  reckless  speculations  connected  with  railway  projects  the  name 
of  Hondiu-as  has  become  one  of  the  most  notorious  in  the  financial  world.      Of 



£5,200,000  borrowed  in  recent  years  ostensibly  to  construct  interoceanic  and 
other  lines,  not  more  than  £700,000  were  actually  expended  on  railway  works. 
Hence  Honduras  is  naturally  unable  to  meet  her  engagements,  however  reluctant 
she  may  be  to  repudiate  them.  No  doubt  the  revenue  continues  to  increase,  but 
it  is  drawn  chiefly  from  the  ciistoms  and  monopolies  on  gunpowder,  spirits,  and 
tobacco,  which  do  not  admit  of  raj)id  expansion.  The  public  debt  with  arrears  of 
interest  amounted  in  1890  to  £7,645,000,  representing  over  forty  years  of  normal 

Fig'.  115.— CoMPAEATiTE  Debts  of  Vakious  States 



S.  African  Rep. 




Su'itzeilitiHl    ., 



1. -100.000 





S.  Domingo 









\                                                    i2,it*:'.ooo 


1      ,.                                                                       13.L>4<',000 
1                                                                                       IJ-SOillMKl 

Uruguay                  ....                                1                                                            i-'"' Ain Ofto  I 


1       ...      19.o2i).<XX) 

1                                                                                      m.'i'^IHVW 

Greece                                                ^                                                                ai.ftWdOO  ! 


~         .                                                          2t3,120.(H)0 


,,.      ai,04i  1.000 


1        .                                                            63,<^),0«) 

Argentine                                                . 

„       . .                              



Germany  .                             ^ 

__        .                             oo.5g;j.i-oo 


1                                                     122.M0,000 


',                                                     -  .    123,080,000 

^                                            224,000,000 

1 ....    208.000.000 

United  States                                      i 

Spain  i.    ■ 

Italv    1 

1                               ,  -    45i.000.(l00 

Russia    i              ^ 

_     .,       473,060,000 

Austria-Hunifiiry         i,  _„    _  

'       600.000.000 

.._    .  _  esfi.jjxtnoo 

f/////M>^,.'//.Ay. ,        ■                          j         I'ranci.'  i-I,2i^^,7-_\i,IM->.          [                             ■    .         '       ,  .^//^ 

revenue  and  about  £40  per  head  of  the  population.  As  no  interest  has  been  paid 
since  1872,  the  state  is  virtually  bankrupt. 

The  interoceanic  railway,  which  served  as  the  pretext  for  this  formidable  debt, 
is  far  from  being  finished.  The  only  completed  section,  about  56  miles,  or  one- 
fourth  of  the  whole  length,  runs  from  Puerto  Caballos  across  the  Sula  plain,  where 
no  heavy  engineering  works  had  to  be  executed.  To  finish  the  whole  line  a  new 
company  had  to  be  formed,  fresh  surveys  taken,  and  attempts  made  to  raise 
more  money.  But  the  £8,000,000  required  to  complete  this  and  other  lines 
from  Puerto  Caballos  to  Truxillo,  and  thence  to  Jutigalpa,  have  not  yet  been  sub- 

Meanwhile  carriage-roads  are   projected  for  the  transport   of  heavy   goods 



over  the  mountain  passes  between  the  Atlantic  and  Pacific  slopes.  The 
two  main  highways  are  the  interoceanic  route  through  Comavagua,  and 
that  running  from  Sensenti  through  Intibucat,  La  Paz,  and  Tegucigalpa  to 

The  postal  and  telegraph  services  are  still  iu  their  infancy  compared  with 
those  of  Mexico,  as  might  be  expected  in  a  country  where  the  great  mass  of  the 
population  is  still  absolutely  imlettered.      In  1887  not  more  than  19,000  adults 

Fig.  116. — Debt  pee  Head  of  PoprLAxios  ra  Vawous  Cottsteies. 



Swiaerland                             r 

Xonray   —        - 

S>  0  3 

»   *  2 

0  8   8 

13  8 

19   7 

112   8 

-\                                                          ...    1  13  4 

-i                                                         2   SU 

-,                  - S   S  3 

3   18 

Japan    ^- 

Xicaraziui                                                        — 
Salrailor  ..  . 

Mexico -^- 

Boiiria  — 

Sw&lea  ....                                                       -- 



Ecuador  .... 

Colombia  ..                                                      : — 

Turkey                                                            — - 

United  Stntes                                                     ' — 

S.  Afrlca!i  K?p.                                                  \ — 

Russia                                                                 i — 

- 3   110 

3   2    1 
3   2    6 
3    6    1 

— ;                                                       3  6  6 

— ,                                                          ..    3   7   1 
— ^                                                         ..    3U   2 
— ;                                                      .434 
— ■                                                        .480 

Denmark ;= 

;                                                    5  12  6 


\       ;i™  » 

11   9   * 

H    0  1ft 



16  13   4 

-.                              17   7   3 

Peru  - .'. .     f 

^ 21    8    4 

P'TTiinl                   p    .,     ' 

could   read  and    write,  and  only  74,000  children  were  receiving  any  kind  of 
education.      In  the  same  year  the  periodical  press  was  limited  to  four  journals. 

The  government  of  Honduras  differs  only  in  a  few  minor  details  from  those 
of  the  other  Central  American  republics.  The  constitution  has  been  frequently 
modified  between  the  years  1824  and  1883,  during  which  period  as  many  as  forty- 
eight  rulers  have  succeeded  under  various  titles  to  the  supreme  power.  In  normal 
times  the  president  is  elected  for  four  years  by  universal  suffrage,  and  is  assisted 
by  a  council  of  seven  ministers  for  foreign  affairs,  the  interior,  public  works,  war, 
finance,  public  iastruction,  and  justice.  The  legislative  functions  are  discharged 
by  a  congress  of  37  members  returned  by  the  various  departments  in  proportion 
to  the  population. 



The  armj'  consists  legally  of  all  able-bodied  unmarried  men  between  the  ages 
of  twenty  and  twenty-five,  regulars  and  reserves  comprising  altogether  about 
25,000  of  all  arms.  Usually,  however,  there  are  scarcely  more  than  500  engaged 
in  garrison  duty. 

For  administrative  purposes  the  republic  is  divided  into  thirteen  departments, 
for  which  see  Appendix. 

V. — Nicaragua. 

Nicaragua  is  the  largest,  but  relatively  the  least  densely-peopled,  of  all  the 
Central  American  states.     Yet  within  its  limits  is  found  the  true   centre  of  the 

Fig.  117.— Teeeitoey  clahted  at  Vaeiou3  Times  by  Geeat  Beitain. 
Scale  1  :  17,000,000. 

4^  -^ 

--    iS.Juan.J,!   Norl- 

West  of"  b^eenvvicK 

.  310  Milea. 

isthmian  region,  and  one  of  the  cardinal  points  in  the  history  of  the  New  "World. 
This  privileged  region  is  the  narrow  strip  of  territory  comprised  between  the 
Pacific  and  the  shores  of  Lakes  Managua  and  Nicaragua.  Here  reigned  the  famous 
cacique,  Nicarao,  whose  name  has  been  perpetuated  in  a  Spanish  form  as  that  of 
the  Ilispano-American  republic. 

Like  Honduras,  Nicaragua  suffered  much  from  the  incursions  of  the  corsairs 
on  its  Atlantic  side,  and  here,  also.  Great  Britain  long  sought  to  secure  a  perma- 
nent footing.  The  section  of  the  seaboard  known  as  Mosquitia,  or  the  Mosquito 
Coast,  was  even  claimed  by  the  English  Government,  and  but  for  the  intervention 
of  the  United  States,  the  whole  space  comprised  between  the  Nicaragua  Eiver  and 
Honduras  Bay  would  have  become  British  territory.  In  virtue  of  the  Monroe 
doctriue,  "  America  for  the  Americans,"  this  territory  was  restored  to  the  republic 


of  Nicaragua,  though  its  independence  was  again  threatened  in  1855  by  the 
American  National  party  itself.  In  that  year  the  American  adventurer,  Walker, 
one  of  those  men  "  who  have  all  the  qualities  required  for  the  throne  or  the 
gibbet,"  came  to  the  aid  of  one  of  the  native  factions  with  over  12,000  filibusters, 
who  were  to  be  rewarded  with  extensive  grants  of  land  for  their  future  victories. 

After  a  first  repulse  at  the  town  of  Rivas,  Walker  seized  Granada,  the  chief 
city  of  the  republic,  and  secured  the  election  of  his  nominee  to  the  presidential 
chair.  Slavery  was  then  revived,  and  an  attempt  made  to  attract  capitalists  with 
the  view  of  converting  Nicaragua  into  one  vast  plantation,  on  the  model  of  the 
"  Cotton  States,"  such  as  Mississippi  and  South  Carolina.  But  all  the  peoples  of 
Central  America  had  already  taken  the  alarm,  and  a  league  was  formed  against 
the  filibusters.  From  the  south  came  the  Costa  Ricaus,  from  the  north  the 
Guatemalans,  and  the  Nicaraguans  themselves  having  also  revolted,  the  adventurer 
was  driven  from  port  to  port,  and  at  last  compelled  to  take  refuge  in  Rivas,.  where, 
after  a  four-months'  siege,  he  had  to  capitulate  in  1857.  Though  his  life  was 
spared,  he  twice  attempted  to  return  to  Central  America,  but  having  fallen  into 
the  hands  of  the  Hondurans,  he  was  executed  as  a  filibuster  at  Truxillo,  in  the 
year  1860. 

This  failure  was  of  more  than  local  importance ;  it  was  the  first  success  of  the 
abolitionist  party  in  America  itself.  "  I  have  defended  the  cause  of  the  slave- 
holders abroad,"  said  Walker  when  dying ;  "  they  will  soon  have  to  defend  it 
themselves  In  their  own  sugar  and  cotton  fields." 

Since  that  critical  epoch,  Nicaragua  has  pursued  a  more  tranquil  course  of 
development  than  the  sister  states.  There  has  been  a  general  increase  of  popula- 
tion and  wealth  without  involving  the  usual  consequences  of  civil  discord  and 
revolutions.  Even  the  troublesome  questions  of  boundaries  have  led  to  nothing 
more  serious  than  diplomatic  discussions  with  Honduras  and  Costa  Rica,  discus- 
sions which  were  finally  settled  by  the  mediation  of  the  United  States  Government, 
appealed  to  as  arbitrator. 

Apart  from  a  few  slight  deviations,  the  two  bold  lines  traced  on  the  map,  on 
one  side  by  the  course  of  the  Rio  Segovia,  on  the  other  by  the  southern  shore  of 
Lake  Nicaragua  and  the  bed  of  the  Rio  San  Juan,  are  regarded  as  the  frontiers 
of  Nicaragua  towards  Honduras  on  the  north  and  Costa  Rica  on  the  south. 

Physical  Features. 

The  Nicaraguan  main  range  forms  a  south-eastern  continuation  of  the  Chile 
Mountains  in  Honduras,  running  parallel  with  the  Pacific  coast,  with  peaks 
ranging  from  over  3,000  to  4,000  feet  In  height.  The  chain  falls  gradually- 
southwards,  rising  to  a  mean  altitude  of  scarcely  more  than  650  or  700  feet  along 
the  east  side  of  Lake  Nicaragua.  This  irregular  system  may  be  roughly  regarded 
as  the  escarpment  of  an  ancient  plateau  falling  abruptly  westwards,  and  Inclining 
eastwards  to  the  Atlantic  through  a  long  declivity  disposed  by  the  running  waters 
in   numerous   divergent    valleys.      Those   of    north    Nicaragua    run    north-east 


parallel  witli  tlie  E,io  Segovia,  and  those  of  the  centre  due  east,  while  those  of  the 
south,  as,  for  instance,  the  valley  traversed  by  the  Rio  San  Juan,  have  a  south- 
easterly trend. 

In  several  places  these  fragmentary  sections  of  the  plateau  present  the  aspect 
of  distinct  sierras.  Such  are,  iu  the  north,  the  Sierra  de  Yeluca,  and  in  the 
south  that  of  Yolaina,  which  terminates  seawards  in  the  Punta  ilico,  the  Monkey 
Point  of  English  writers.  Amongst  the  various  foot-hills  of  the  main  range, 
there  is  one  ridge  which  had  passed  unnoticed  by  all  goographei's  till  indicated 
for  the  first  time  by  the  naturalist  Belt,  in  1874,  when  it  attracted  universal 
attention  owing  to  the  curious  resemblance  of  its  name  to  that  of  the  New  World 
itself.  This  is  the  little  Sierra  d'Amerrique,  near  Libertad,  otherwise  remarkable 
for  its  sheer  rockj^  walls,  its  obelisks  and  huge  isolated  crags.  The  name  of  the 
continent  has  now  been  connected  by  M.  Marcou  with  these  hitherto  unknown 
rugged  heights,  the  theory  being  that  Amerigo  Vespucci  and  other  early  naviga- 
tors hoard  the  natives  speak  of  the  hills  in  question  as  abounding  in  treasures,  and 
then  applied  the  term  to  the  whole  region  ;  thereupon  it  occurred  to  Amerigo  to 
turn  to  his  personal  glory  the  accidental  resemblance  of  this  name  to  his  own. 

The  Sierra  d'Amerrique,  called  also  Amerisque  and  Amerrisque  from  a  local 
tribe  said  to  have  been  formerly  powerful,  lies  in  the  territory  of  the  ancient 
Lencas,  as  is  shown  by  the  ending  riqm  generally  occurring  in  the  Honduras 
regions  inhabited  by  these  Indians. 

West  of  the  Nicaraguan  main  range,  the  region  facing  the  Pacific  was  originally 
an  extensive  low-lj'ing  plain,  where  the  underground  forces  have  raised  two  lines 
of  eminences,  or  even  mountains,  some  isolated,  others  forming  veritable  chains. 
The  first  of  these  ranges  is  so  inconspicuous  that,  when  seen  from  the  plain,  it  seems 
merged  in  the  chain  disposed  immediately  to  the  east  of  it.  Its  indistinct  cha- 
racter is  due  to  the  fact  that  the  volcanoes  have  been  upheaved  on  the  very  flanks 
of  the  plateau.  Thus  Guisisil  (4,550  feet)  rises  in  close  proximity  to  the  Mata- 
galpa  Mountains,  and  by  damming  up  the  waters  formerly  descending  to  the 
Pacific,  has  deflected  them  through  the  Rio  Grande  eastwards  to  the  Atlantic. 

South-west  of  Guisisil,  loftiest  of  these  volcanoes,  other  cones  have  emerged 
along  the  depression  which  is  flooded  by  the  two  Lakes  Managua  and  Nicaragua ; 
here  the  Cerro  de  la  Palma,  Cuisaltepe,  Juigalpa,  Platotepe,  Pan  de  Azucar,  Jaen, 
Picara  and  the  Ventanillas  are  all  disposed  in  a  line  running  close  to  the  east  side 
of  the  great  reservoir. 

But  far  more  important  in  the  geological  history  of  the  country  are  the  peaks 
of  the  main  range,  which  forms  a  continuation  of  the  Salvador  volcanic  system. 
The  truncated  cone  of  Coseguina,  at  the  southern  entrance  of  the  Gulf  of  Fonseca 
■opposite  Conchagua,  is  the  first  link  in  this  igneous  chain  ;  it  still  rises  3,860  feet 
above  the  sea,  but  according  to  Belcher,  the  regular  cone  must  have  been  at  least 
double  that  height.  Before  the  Krakatau  explosion,  Coseguina  was  usually  referred 
to  with  Timboro,  of  Sumbawa  Island,  as  a  typical  example  of  the  tremendous  catas- 
trophes caused  by  the  sudden  escape  of  gases  pent  up  in  the  bowels  of  the  earth. 
On  January  20,   1835,   the  summit  of  Coseguina  was  blown  to  atoms,  day  was 



changed  to  night  for  a  space  of  several  hundred  square  miles,  the  sea  was  covered 
with  a  dense  layer  of  ashes  and  scoriae  arresting  the  progress  of  ships  for  a  distance 
of  over  25  miles  from  the  volcano,  all  verdure  disappeared  under  a  bed  of  dust  at 
least  16  feet  thick,  and  the  very  shoreline  encroached  on  the  ocean  and  on  the  Gulf 
of  Fonseca.  Westwards  the  trade  winds  wafted  the  dust  1,380  miles  across  the  sea, 
eastwards  the  counter-current  precipitated  it  on  Honduras,  Yucatan,  and  Jamaica, 

Fipr-   118- — MoMEACHO  Volcano  and  Shobes  op  Lake  Nicaeaoua. 

while  the  aerial  eddies  carried  the  ashes  southwards  to  New  Grenada.  The  crash 
of  the  ruptured  mountain  was  heard  on  the  Bogota  uplands,  a  distance  of  over 
1,000  miles  as  the  crow  flies.  Altogether  the  ashes  fell  on  a  space  of  about 
1,600,000  square  miles,  while  the  erupted  matter  was  estimated  at  1,750  billions  of 
cubic  feet.  The  explosion  lasted  forty- three  hours,  but  the  people  of  the  sur- 
rounding plains  had  time  to  escape,  with  their  domestic  animals,  followed  by 
wild  beasts,  birds  and  reptiles,  beyond  the  reach  of  the  stifling  gases. 

Some  30  miles  south-east  of  Coseguina  rises   the    twin-crested  mass  of  the 

VOL.    XVII.  T 


extinct  Chonco  and  Viejo  (6,300  feet)  cones,  beyond  whicli  follows  tlie  Marrabios 
range  of  peaks,  mostly  little  over  3,000  feet,  but  culminating  about  the  centre  of 
tbe  system  in  Telica,  4,200  feet  bigh.  Somewbat  east  of  tbe  Marrabios  tbe  series 
of  volcanoes  is  continued  by  tbe  majestic  Momotombo  (6,150  feet),  wbose  base 
forms  a  promontory  in  Lake  Managua,  and  wbicb  bas  been  in  eruption  so  recently 
as  1852.  Formerly  tbe  missionaries  baptised  tbe  burning  mountains,  but  some 
monks  wbo  bad  undertaken  to  plant  tbe  cross  on  Momotombo  never  returned. 

Cbiltepec  (2,800  feet),  wbicb  rises  out  of  tbe  very  waters  of  Managua,  is 
followed  by  some  less  elevated  cones  on  tbe  mainland,  wbere  tbey  are  in  close 
proximity  to  lagoons  evidently  at  one  time  forming  part  of  tbe  lake.  About 
midwaj'  between  tbe  two  basins  stands  tbe  famous  Masaya  (2,800  feet),  wbicb  was 
formerly  known  to  the  Spaniards  by  tbe  name  of  Infierno,  "  Hell,"  and  wbicb  in 
pre-Columbian  times  was  said  to  bave  borne  tbe  name  of  Popocatepetl,  like  tbe 
Mexican  giant. 

Masaya,  tbat  is,  tbe  "Burning  Mountain,"  was  first  ascended  by  Oviedo,  wbo 
saw  its  crater  filled  with  boiling  lavas.  At  that  time  slight  eruptions  occurred 
at  almost  regular  intervals  of  fifteen  minutes,  and  the  yellow  fluid  bubbling  up  on 
the  bed  of  tbe  crater  was  supposed  to  be  molten  gold.  Two  Spanish  monks,  accom- 
panied by  three  fellow-countrj-men  and  many  Indians,  having  failed  to  secure  any 
of  the  precious  liquid,  it  occurred  to  Juan  Alvarez,  dean  of  tbe  chapter  of  Leon, 
to  tap  the  perennial  stream  by  means  of  a  tunnel  driven  through  the  flank  of  the 
moimtain.  But  before  the  work  could  be  seriously  taken  in  hand,  Masaya  boUed 
over  of  its  own  accord  in  1772,  and  since  then  it  has  been  quiescent,  except  in  1852 
when  it  ejected  a  few  jets  of  vapour.  But  in  1856,  Nindiri,  a  parasitic  crater  on 
its  flank,  discharged  large  quantities  of  vapour. 

Mombacho  (4,600  feet),  which  stands  on  tbe  same  pedestal  as  Masaya,  but  on 
tbe  north-west  shore  of  Lake  Nicaragua,  has  long  been  extinct.  But  its  former 
energy  is  attested  by  tbe  surrounding  lava  streams  and  by  tbe  Corales,  a  cluster  of 
eruptive  islets  encircling  its  submerged  base. 

South-west  of  Mombacho  the  volcanic  chain  is  continued  In  the  lake  itself,  first 
by  Zapatera  (2,000  feet),  and  then  by  the  large  twin-crested  island  of  Ometepe 
tbat  is,  the  Mexican- Aztec  Ome-tepetl,  "  Two  Mountains,"  5,360  and  4,200  feet 
respectively.  The  summit  of  Ometepe  is  crowned  by  a  flooded  crater,  and  on  the 
flank  of  tbe  mountain  is  a  still  larger  crater  overgrown  with  dense  vegetation. 
From  the  top  of  the  mountain  a  wide  prospect  is  commanded  of  the  whole  lake, 
the  narrow  isthmus  separating  it  from  the  Pacific,  and  the  amphitheatre  of  bills 
sweeping  round  the  eastern  horizon. 

"West  of  the  two  lakes  the  isthmus  constituting  Nicaragua  proper  has  also  its 
little  coast-range,  of  moderate  elevation  and  interrupted  by  numerous  gaps. 
Venturon,  the  culminating  crest,  is  only  800  feet  high,  while  the  lowest  pass 
scarcely  stands  more  than  25  or  26  feet  above  the  level  of  the  lake,  which  at  the 
narrowest  point  is  rather  less  than  13  miles  from  the  Pacific.  In  many  places, 
the  isthmian  region  is  entirelj'  covered  by  the  so-called  ialpdatc  or  tepdate,  that  is, 
eruptive  matter  deposited  under  the  influence  of  the  prevailing  south-west  trade 



winds.     The  consequence  is  that  this  region  is  destitute  of  springs  or  streams, 
all  the  rain  water  disappearing  in  the  porous  masses  of  scoriae  and  ashes. 

KI^^!Rs  AXD  Lakes. 

Although  the  Nicaraguan  backbone  is  developed  east  of  the  lacustrine  depres- 
sion, the  narrow  strip  of  land  limiting  Lake  Nicaragua  on  the  west  side  is  the 
true  waterparting  of  the  whole  region.     The  streams  descending  from  the  western 

Fig.  119. — IsTHiros  or  Eivas. 

Scale  1  : 1.200.000. 

V/est   oF  Greenwich 



5  Fatnoms 
and  upwards. 

18  Hilcs. 

slopes  of  the  Chontal  Mountains  do  not  flow  to  the  Pacific,  but  after  a  winding 
course  fi.nd  their  way  to  the  Caribbean  Sea.  The  pretended  law  that  makes 
watersheds  coincide  with  mountain  ranges  is  nowhere  more  clearly  contradicted. 

The  parting-line,  however,  which  is  formed  by  the  isthmus  sends  down 
nothing  but  rivulets  on  its  west  slope.  The  only  Nicaraguan  rivers  that  reach  the 
Pacific  have  their  sources  on  the  opposite  flank  of  the  Marrabios  hills,  and  flow  to 
the  Gulf  of  Fonseca.     Such  are  the  Estero   Real,  rising  in  the  neighbourhood  of 




Lake  Managua,  and,  farther  north,  the  Rio  Negro,  which  has  become  the  frontier 
towards  Honduras. 

Both  of  these  watercourses  have  frequently  shifted  their  beds,  owing  partly  to 
the  erupted  matter  damming  up  their  channels,  and  forming  islands  and  peninsulas, 
partly  also,  perhaps,  to  seismic  disturbances.  Since  the  eruption  of  Coseguina 
in  1835  the  Rio  Negro  has  changed  its  course   no  less  than  four  times,  and  at 

Fig'.   120.-  TnE   NiOAEAQUA-  WATEErAKTIXG. 
Scale  1  :  S.orio.OOO 

'yS^^ii'''~^'  '1^^  ^' 

West  oF  breenwich 

GO  ALUes. 

present  it  intermingles  its  waters  with  those  of  the  Estero  Real  in  a  common 

The  most  copious  river  in  north  Nicaragua  flows,  under  a  great  diversity  of 
names,  from  the  Matagalpa  moimtains  through  the  broadest  part  of  the  state  down 
to  the  Atlantic  near  Cape  Gracias-a-Dios.  About  its  sources,  within  50  miles  of 
the  Pacific,  it  is  known  as  the  Somoro,  and  lower  down  successively  as  the  Cabrugal 
(Cabullal),  the  Coco  (Cocos),  Oro  (Yoro,  Yare),  Portillo  Liso,  Tapacac,  Encuentro, 
Pantasma,  Segovia,  from  a  town  on  its  banks,  and  Gracias,  or  Cape  River,  from 
the  low  peninsula  it  has  formed  where  it  reaches  the  coast.    It  also  takes  the  name 


of  Herbias,  while  the  English  call  itTVanks  or  Yankes,  this  confusing  nomenclature 
being  due  partly  to  the  different  languages  current  along  its  banks,  partly  to  the 
lack  of  historic  unity  of  the  fluvial  basin.  "While  the  Spanish  colonists  were 
settling  in  the  upper  ralleys  of  the  Eio  Segovia,  foreign  corsairs  of  every  nation 
were  infesting  its  lower  course. 

Pent  in  between  mountain  ranges,  the  "Wanks  drains  a  relatively  narrow  basin, 
but,  being  exposed  to  the  moist  east  winds,  it  is  a  copious  stream  accessible  to  small 
craft  for  a  distance  of  about  170  miles  below  the  rapids.  At  its  mouth  it  projects 
its  delta  far  seawards  between  banks  of  a  reddish  alluvium  washed  down  from 
the  upper  valleys.  The  "Wanks  drains  an  area  of  nearly  12,000  square  miles, 
has  a  course  of  400  miles,  and  a  mean  discharge  of  17,000  cubic  feet  per 

Between  this  river  and  the  San  Juan,  the  largest  watercourse  is  the  Eio 
Grande,  whose  main  branch,  the  ilatagalpa,  probably  at  one  time  flowed  west  to 
Lake  Managua.  But  having  been  dammed  up  by  the  heaps  of  scorise  ejected 
from  GuisisU,  its  course  was  deflected  southwards  and  eastwards  to  the  Atlantic. 
In  one  part  of  its  valley  it  takes  the  name  of  Bulbul,  while  the  Sambos  of 
ilosquitia  call  it  Awaltara.  At  its  mouth  it  communicates  through  lateral 
channels  with  other  watercourses,  and  according  to  Levy's  chart  there  is  a  con- 
tinuous series  of  backwaters,  false  rivers,  and  passages  extending  for  about  250 
miles  from  Cape  Gracias-a-Dios  to  the  Blewfields  lagoon,  separated  from  the  sea 
by  a  strip  of  sandy  beaches  and  mangrove  thickets.  Most  of  these  waters  are 
narrow  and  obstructed  by  islands ;  but  the  Pearl  Cay  and  Blewfields  lagoons  are 
veritable  inland  seas,  in  parts  overgrown  by  mangroves,  but  still  leaving  vast 
spaces  open  to  navigation.  The  Blewfields  basin,  said  to  be  so  named  from  a  Dutch 
corsair,  BKeveldt,  receives  a  river  of  like  name,  called  also  the  Eio  Escondido 
about  its  middle  course. 

From  the  geological  standpoint  the  present  coast  between  Cape  Gracias-a-Dios 
and  Monkey  Point  indicates  a  state  of  transition  between  the  old  shoreline,  that 
is,  the  west  side  of  the  lagoons,  and  the  great  Mosquito  Bank,  which  advances 
seawards  for  a  variable  distance  of  fi'om  30  to  100  miles  and  which  comprises 
numerous  submerged  and  upheaved  cays.  One  of  these  reefs  is  the  Mosquito  Cay, 
which  has  given  its  name  to  the  whole  bank,  a  name  afterwards  extended  to  the 
east  coast  itself  and  its  inhabitants.  Some  of  the  islands  on  or  near  the  outer 
margin  of  the  banks  are  large  and  elevated  enough  to  support  a  few  settlements. 
Such  are  Tieja  Providencia  and  San  Andres,  which  belong  politically  to  the 
Eepublic  of  Colombia,  the  little  Corn  Islands  and  Pearl  Cays,  dependent  on 

South  of  Monkey  Point  the  Eio  Indio  reaches  the  coast  just  above  the  delta 
of  the  San  Juan,  which  is  the  most  copious  of  all  the  Xicaraguan  rivers,  but  which 
only  partly  belongs  to  the  republic.  Most  of  its  basin  is,  in  fact,  comprised 
within  the  neighbouring  state  of  Costa  Eiea,  though  its  farthest  headstream  rises 
in  the  great  lacustrine  depression  west  of  the  Xicaraguan  main  range.  Although 
the  San  Juan  at  present  drains  this  depression  to  the  Atlantic,  there  was  a  time 



when  Lakes  Nicaragua  and  Managua  formed  a  continuous  basin  whicli  sent  its 
overflow  to  the  Pacific  at  the  Gulf  of  Fonseca.  From  that  epoch  dates  the  Intro- 
duction of  the  marine  species,  which  have  gradually  adapted  themselves  to  the 
fresh  waters  of  Lake  Nicaragua. 

Gil  Gonzalez  de  Avila  was  assured  by  the  natives  that  Lake  Xolotlan  (Man- 
agua) had  an  emissary  flowing  directly  to  the  "Gulf  of  Chorotega"  (Fonseca), 
but  that  the  outflow  was  arrested  by  a  lava  stream  from  Momotombo.  The 
emissary  is  now  represented  by  the  Estero  Real,  while  Managua  sought  another 
Issue  southwards  to  Lake  Nicaragua,  and  thus  became  a  tributary  of  the  Atlantic. 

A  slight  upheaval  would  still  sufiice  to  convert  Managua  into  a  closed  basin. 

Fig.  121.— jMaeeabios  Range  and  Lake  Manaqtta. 
Scale  1  : 1,400,000. 

30  Jliles. 

During  the  rains  It  feeds  an  emissary  which  at  the  Tipltapa  salto  has  a  picturesque 
fall  of  17  or  18  feet;  but  In  the  dry  season  there  Is  no  continuous  current,  the 
water  slowly  percolating  through  the  sands  and  fissures  of  the  rocks.  A  dry 
space  of  over  four  miles  separates  the  outflow  from  the  estero  of  Panaloya,  which, 
although  presenting  the  appearance  of  a  river.  Is  merely  a  tranquil  backwater 
communicating  with  Lake  Nicaragua. 

Even  during  the  rains  Tipltapa  is  completely  obstructed  by  reefs,  and  in  1836 
Belcher  had  to  transport  a  boat  from  one  lake  to  the  other.  Hence  It  Is  all  the 
more  surprising  that  projectors  of  Interoceanic  canals  should  represent  Tipltapa  as 
the  natural  prolongation  of  a  great  transisthmian  canal.  Managua  itself,  although 
over  400   square  miles   In   extent,   Is   obstructed    by   shoals,   which   render  it 


unnavigable  by  vessels  drawing  more  than  five  or  six  feet  of  water.  It  stands  at 
a  mean  altitude  of  140  feet  above  the  sea. 

Kicaragua.  the  Cocibolco  of  the  natives,  stands  some  30  feet  lower,  or  about  110 
feet  above  sea-level.  It  has  a  mean  area  of  3,600  square  miles  ;  but  there  are  no 
abysses  as  in  the  .Alpine  lakes,  the  deepest  cavity  being  scarcely  280  feet  deep. 
Some  parts,  especially  near  the  San  Juan  outlet,  are  very  shallow,  and  the  general 
level  varies  with  the  seasons  little  more  than  seven  or  eight  feet.  But  there  can 
be  no  doubt  that  it  formerly  stood  at  a  much  higher  level,  for  the  islets  south  of 
Zapatera  are  covered  with  scoriae  containing  freshwater  shells,  like  those  still 
found  on  the  neighbouring  shores. 

During  the  rains  vast  spaces  round  the  lake  are  transformed  to  absolutely 
impassable  cienagas  (quagmires),  the  waters  from  the  surrounding  heights  pene- 
trating to  a  great  depth  into  the  pasty  soil  and  converting  the  plains  into  a  sea  of 
mud.  In  the  dry  season  the  moisture  evaporates,  and  the  baked  ground  becomes 
fissured  without  anywhere  clothing  itself  with  vegetation. 

Nicaragua  is  fed  by  numerous  affluents,  some  of  which  have  acquired  a  certain 
celebrity  in  connection  with  various  schemes  of  interoceanic  canalisation ;  such 
are  the  Eios  Sapoa  and  de  las  Lajas  in  the  isthmus  of  Rivas.  But  the  most  copious 
tributary  is  the  Eio  Frio  descending  from  the  Costa  Eica  uplands,  and  washing 
down  vast  quantities  of  volcanic  sediment,  which  is  gradually  filling  up  the 
southern  part  of  the  basin,  and  raising  its  bed  above  the  surface,  as  the  neighbour- 
ing Solentiname  archipelago  has  already  been  raised.  Then  the  Eio  Frio  will 
become  a  tributary,  not  of  the  lake,  but  of  the  San  Juan,  and  this  river,  thus 
charged  with  sedimentary  matter,  will  form  a  chief  obstacle  to  the  proposed 
interoceanic  canal. 

The  San  Juan,  which  escapes  from  the  lake  just  below  the  mouth  of  the  Frio, 
flows  in  a  very  sluggish  stream  till  it  approaches  the  Castillo,  a  little  fort  on  the 
right  bank  40  miles  below  the  outlet.  Here  the  river  has  forced  a  passage  through 
the  schistose  ridge  connecting  the  Chontal  mountains  with  the  Costa  Eican  Cerros 
de  San  Carlos.  The  rapids  thus  formed  are  followed  some  12  miles  lower  down  by 
another  series  of  erosions,  the  raudal  de  ilachuca,  so  named  from  the  first  Euro- 
pean explorer  of  the  San  Juan.  Farther  on  the  mainstream  is  joined  by  the  San 
Carlos,  which  sends  down  from  the  Costa  Eican  uplands  a  volume  almost  equal  to 
that  of  the  San  Juan  itself.  A  little  above  the  delta  follows  the  still  more  copious 
Sarapiqui  afiluent,  which  also  descends  from  the  Costa  Eican  mountains,  but  which 
is  so  charged  with  alluvial  matter  that  the  idea  of  utilising  the  lower  course  of 
the  San  Juan  for  the  proposed  canal  has  been  abandoned. 

In  the  delta  itself  the  shifting  branches  of  the  mainstream  are  joined  by 
the  Ei  -  Colorado,  a  third  affluent  from  Costa  Eica.  About  the  middle  of  the 
century  nearly  all  the  united  waters  of  the  San  Juan  basin  entered  the  sea  at 
Graytown  (San  Juan  del  Norte),  where  the  powerful  current  had  excavated  a 
spacious  harbour  accessible  to  vessels  of  average  draught.  But  most  of  this 
current  was  deflected  by  the  opening  of  the  Jimenez,  a  branch  of  the  San  Juan, 
which  now  joins  the  Colorado  and  whick, visually  bears  the  same  name.     Other 


ctannels  at  times  carried  off  all  the  rest,  leaving  the  harbour  half  choked  with 
sands  and  almost  cut  off  from  communication  with  the  river.  Hence  it  has 
been  proposed  to  remove  the  jjort  to  the  mouth  of  the  Colorado  ;  but  the  bar, 
with  from  10  to  16  feet  of  water,  varies  frequently  in  depth,  while  the  road- 
stead is  exposed  to  the  dangerous  north  winds.* 

Climate,  Flora,  Fauna. 

Nicaragua  Is  divided  by  the  nature  of  its  soil  and  climate  into  three  distinct 
zones,  an  eastern,  central,  and  western,  each  presenting  special  features  in  its 
vegetation,  inhabitants,  social  condition,  and  history. 

The  old  schistose  quartz  and  dolerite  rocks  of  the  plateaux  and  mountains  on 
the  Atlantic  slope  are  watered  by  copious  rains  and  vapours  brought  by  the  north- 
east trade  winds.  Hence  these  regions  are  covered  with  forests  interrupted  only 
by  river  beds,  swamps,  and  marshy  savannas.  Here  are  found  all  the  varieties  of 
timber,  cabinet  and  dye  woods  of  the  Honduras  and  South  Mexican  floras — cedars, 
mahogany,  gayac,  besides  the  characteristic  cortes  {tccoma  sidcro.x  ijlon) ,  which  is 
hard  as  ebony  and  remarkable  for  the  dazzling  golden  blossom  with  which  it  is 
entirely  clothed  towards  the  end  of  March,  after  the  fall  of  the  green  foliage. 
Owing  to  the  superabundance  of  moisture  this  region  is  necessarily  unhealthj'  and 
sparsely  inhabited,  the  few  Indian  or  half-caste  natives  being  chiefly  confined  to 
narrow  glades  in  the  dense  woodlands. 

The  range  of  the  Atlantic  rains  and  rank  forest-growths  is  sharply  limited  by 
the  crest  of  the  main  Nicaraguan  chain,  so  that  it  may  rain  for  weeks  or  months 
together  at  Libertad  on  the  east  slope,  while  Juigalj^a,  on  the  Pacific  side,  enjoys 
cloudless  skies.  The  eastern  rains  last  from  May  to  January,  with  occasional 
intervals  of  fine  weather,  especially  in  October  and  November. 

Immediately  beyond  the  forest  region  begins  the  central  zone  of  savannas, 
varied  here  and  there  by  a  giant  ceiba,  which  affords  a  grateful  shade  to  numerous 
flocks  and  herds.  Here  the  work  of  man  in  clearing  the  woodlands  has  been 
aided  by  the  occodoma,  a  species  of  ant,  which  spares  the  hei'bage  and  confines  its 
attacks  to  the  sprouts  and  saplings  growing  on  the  verge  of  the  forest.  According 
to  Belt,  these  ants  are  veritable  agriculturists.  They  cut  the  tender  leaves  in 
squares,  not  for  food,  as  was  formerly  supposed,  but  for  manure  to  enrich  the 
underground  plantations  of  fungi  on  which  they  chiefly  live.  The  eciton  hamata, 
another  species  of  ant  in  the  same  region,  is  placed  by  the  same  naturalist  in  the 
first  rank  for  its  intelligence.  When  a  brook  is  bridged  by  a  single  branch  too 
narrow  to  allow  a  horde  to  cross  except  in  Indian  file,  a  number  of  the  insects 
cluster  on  both  sides  of  the  natural  causeway  in  such  a  way  as  to  double  or  treble 
its  width. 

Amongst  the  remarkable  phenomena  presented  by  the  fauna  of  this  upland 

*  Hydrology  of  the  San  Juan  : — From  the  soiu-ce  of  the  Rio  San  Rafael  to  Lake  Managrua ,  94  miles  ; 
Lake  Managua,  28  miles  ;  Eio  Tipitapa,  18  miles  ;  Lake  Nicaragua,  88  miles  ;  Desaguadero  (San  Juan), 
125  miles;  total.  353  miles.  Extent  of  the  basin,  including  the  Colorado,  16,000  square  miles  ;  discharge 
at  the  Lake  Nicaragua  outlet,  12,000  cubic  feet ;  at  the  fork  of  the  delta,  25,000  cubic  feet ;  during  the 
floods,  62,000  cubic  feet  per  second. 





zone  Belt  also  mentions  the  timrtcs  c/iiroii,  a  species  of  butterfly,  whicli  moves  in 
coimtless  multitudes  over  hill  and  dale,  always  in  the  direction  of  the  south-east 
towards  the  Mosquito  Coast.  They  come,  probably,  from  the  remote  Honduras  or 
Guatemalan  forests,  but  never  return. 

The  third  zone  comprises  the  lacustrine  plains  and  Pacific  seaboard,  that  is, 
Nicaragua  in  the  narrower  sense — the  "  Paradise  of  Mohammed,"  in  the  language 
of  the  Spanish  conquerors — the  privileged  region  on  which  the  other  two  zones 
naturally  depend.  It  is  at  once  the  most  fertile  and  healthiest  region  of  the 
republic,  though  exposed  to  the  fierce  westerly  gales  here  known  as  jmpagayos, 
from  the  Gulf  of  Papagayo,  at  the  south-western  extremity  of  Nicaragua.  Here 
the  native  populations  were  formerly  crowded  together  in  vast  cities  "  four  leagues 
long,"  and  the  whole  isthmus  between  the  lakes  and  the  sea  was  transformed  to  a 
vast  plantation.  Hence  the  local  flora  chiefly  consists  of  cultivated  plants,  and 
others  associated  with  them. 


In  Nicaragua  the  aborigines  were  exterminated,  if  not  more  ruthlessly,  at  all 
events,  to  a  greater  extent  than  elsewhere  in  Central  America.  There  being  no 
escape  between  the  ocean  and  the  lakes,  the  more  numerous  were  the  native  com- 
munities, the  more  wholesale  were  the  massacres.  Even  iu  east  Nicaragua,  near 
the  Caribbean  Sea,  many  districts,  formerlj^  covered  with  Indian  villages,  were 
completely  depopulated  by  the  buccaneers.  Thus  between  Monkey  Point  and  the 
Blewfields  estuary,  old  cemeteries,  heaj)s  of  potsherds,  carved  stones,  and  even 
human  effigies  are  found  in  a  region  which  is  now  a  wilderness.  The  Spanish 
dwellings  met  along  the  course  of  the  Mico  are  built  with  materials  taken  from 
older  Indian  structures. 

At  present  all  the  native  populations  of  west  Nicaragua  are  half-caste  Ladinos. 
The  Mangues,  Nagrandans,  Dirians,  and  Orotinans  of  the  north-west  are  collectively 
grouped  as  Chorotegas,  or  Choroteganos,  which  is  merely  another  form  of  Cholu- 
teca,  the  collective  name  of  the  neighboui'ing  Honduras  Indians,  to  whom  they  are 
related.  Some  ethnologists  affiliate  the  Chorotegas  to  the  Chiapanecs  of  east 
Mexico,  while  others  regard  them  as  Mayas  expelled  from  Cholula  in  pre-Aztec 
times.  They  bore  the  name  of  Olmecs,  like  the  jDredecessors  of  the  Nahuas  on 
the  Anahuac  tableland,  and  probabl}'  belonged  to  the  same  stock. 

The  final  syllables  of  local  names  in  various  parts  of  Nicaragua  cortainlj-  indi- 
cate the  presence  of  different  peoples  at  different  epochs.  The  ending,  galpa,  is 
Aztec,  while  rique  denotes  towns  and  heights  on  both  sides  of  the  Honduras  fron- 
tier. In  the  valley  of  the  Rio  Segovia  the  names  of  places  end  in  //  or  guina,  and 
in  Chontales  ajM  or  ajm  is  most  common. 

Fully  a  century  before  the  arrival  of  the  Spaniards,  the  Nahuas  had  advanced 
as  conquerors  through  Guatemala,  Salvador,  and  Honduras  into  Nicaragua.  Here 
they  were  known  by  the  name  of  Niquii-an  or  Nicarao,  which  some  etymologists 
identify  with  the  terra  Nicaragua  itself.  Like  their  Mexican  kinsmen  they  had 
their  city  of  Tola  or  Tula,  and  like  them  also  practised  the  art  of  writing,  carved 



statues,  and  erected  temples  scarcely  inferior  to  those  of  ]\rexico  and  Yucatan. 
The  local  topographic  nomenclature  shows  that  the  Aztec  nJe  extended  over 
nearlj^  the  whole  of  Nicaragua,  although  their  language  has  ceased  to  be  current  even 
in  the  isthmus  of  Rivas,  where  they  at  one  time  existed  in  multitudes.  Spanish, 
enriched  by  numerous  Mexican  expressions,  has  become  the  common  speech  of  all. 
In  their  stage-pieces,  representing  myths,  historic  events,  or  religious  dramas,  the 
languao-e  employed  is  a  jargon  called  by  Brintou  the  "  Nuhuatl-Spanish  dialect  of 

Scale  1  :  7,000,000. 

West  of    breenwuch 

.  121  Miles. 

Nicaragua."     Most  of  these  plays  are  accompanied  by  hciiks,  or  dances,  and  nearly 
all  the  old  musical  instruments  are  still  in  use. 

As  in  Mexico,  the  conquistadores  endeavoured  to  destroy  all  memorials  of  the 
old  culture.  In  1524  the  missionary  Bobadilla  raised  a  huge  pyre  at  Managua,  on 
which  a  bonfire  was  made  of  the  religious  and  historical  paintings,  calendars, 
maps,  and  all  other  Nahua  and  Chorotegan  documents  that  he  could  lay  his  hands 
on.  The  temples  were  razed  to  the  ground,  the  idols  overthrown,  the  cemeteries 
desecrated ;  nevertheless,  down  to  the  present  century  there  still  survived  nume- 
rous sculptured  stones,  especially  in  the  islands  of  Lake  Nicaragua,  which  the 
Spaniards  had  ceased  to  visit  after  exterminating  their  inhabitants.  In  the 
island  of  Momotombito  alone   Squier  saw  over  fifty  colossal  basalt  monoliths 


representing  tuman  figures  and  recalling  the  monstrous  statues  of  Easter  Island, 

Xumerous  antiquities,  such  as  carved  stones  and  rock  inscriptions,  ■were  also 
found  in  the  islands  of  Ceiba,  Pensacola,  and  Zapatera.  From  the  cemeteries  of 
Ometepe,  where  the  Xahua  population  has  preserved  its  primitive  purity,  Brans- 
ford  removed  to  the  TTashington  iluseum  some  eight  hundred  precious  objects 
especially  huge  sepulchral  urns  containing  seated  bodies  still  decked  ■with  their 
ornaments.  Another  curious  find  made  by  Flint  was  the  traces  of  thousands  of 
human  feet  left  on  the  yellow  ashes  ejected  by  llasaya  and  afterwards  covered  by 
subsequent  eruptions. 

The  uplands  between  the  lacustrine  and  Atlantic  basins  are  inhabited  by  abori- 
gines designated,  like  those  of  south-east  ilexico,  by  the  general  name  of  Chontals, 
that  is,  "  barbarians."  Before  the  conquest  they  were  already  held  in  contempt 
by  the  civilised  Xahuas  of  the  plains  ;  nevertheless  the  ruins  of  cities  and  numerous 
vestiges  of  buildings  and  causeways  show  that  these  so-called  barbarians  had  made 
considerable  progress  in  the  arts  of  civilisation.  Gradually  driven  eastwards  by 
the  Ladinos,  the  Chontals  have  largely  merged  with  the  Zumas  (Sooms,  or  Simus), 
the  Popolacas  or  "Waiknas,  that  is,  "  Men,"  or  else  have  altogether  disappeared. 
In  many  districts  nothing  is  now  seen  except  their  graves,  usually  disposed  in  a 
vast  circle  round  the  habitations. 

The  Chontals  appear  to  be  related  to  the  Lencas  of  Honduras ;  their  language 
is  distinct  both  from  Aztec  and  Maya,  and  they  still  number  about  30,000,  mostly 
designated  by  the  names  of  the  rivers  inhabited  by  them.  Some,  however,  bear 
distinct  names,  such  as  the  Pantasmas  of  the  upper  Segovia,  the  Cucras  following 
lower  down,  the  Carcas,  TV^ulwas  (Uluas),  Lamans,  Melchoras,  Siquias,  and  the 
Eamas  of  the  Eio  Mico,  rudest  of  all  the  aborigines. 

One  of  the  tribes  on  the  Eio  Grande  has  assumed  the  title  of  Montezuma,  which 
for  the  populations  of  Mexico  and  Central  America  has  become  synonymous  with 
the  old  national  independence.  This  tribe,  however,  seems  more  akin  to  the  Carib 
than  to  the  Lenca  stock.  The  word  Carib  itself,  under  the  form  of  Carabisi,  was 
current  in  this  region  long  before  the  arrival  of  the  Caribs  from  St.  Vincent. 
"When  speaking  of  the  local  idioms,  Herrera  mentions  in  the  first  place  that  of  the 
Carabisi ;  they  have  been  identified  with  the  present  Zumas  and  Waiknas. 

On  the  other  hand  the  so-called  "  Caribs  "  of  the  seaboard,  more  generally 
called  Moscos  or  Mosquitos,  are  reaUy  Sambos,  that  is,  half-caste  Indians  and 
negroes,  with  a  strain  of  European  blood,  due  to  the  buccaneers  who  infested  these 
shores.  Many  of  the  natives  in  the  provinces  of  Segovia  and  Matagalpa  have  fair 
hair  and  blue  eyes,  which  Belt  attributes  to  the  intermingling  that  took  place  in 
the  sixteenth  and  seventeenth  centuries  between  the  local  Creoles  and  the  French 
and  English  corsairs.  In  16S7  the  280  rovers  commanded  by  Eavenau  de  Lussan, 
having  abandoned  their  vessels  in  the  Gulf  of  Fonseca,  crossed  the  continent,  here 
310  miles  wide,  and  reached  the  Atlantic  by  the  valley  of  the  Segovia.  Others 
ascended  the  same  river,  which  had  become  "  the  great  highway  from  ocean  to 


Nearly  all  the  whites  who  settled  in  the  favoured  isthmian  regions  belonged  to 
the  vigorous  Galician  race,  and  the  Gallego  type  may  still  be  recognised,  though 
their  Spanish  patois  contains  but  few  words  borrowed  from  the  Galician  dialect. 
Non-Spanish  immigrants,  French,  Italians,  English,  or  North  Americans,  are  very 
few,  and  their  arrival  dates  only  from  the  middle  of  the  present  century.  Yet 
European  artisans  and  labourers  might  easily  adapt  themselves  to  the  climate, 
especially  in  the  Matagalpa  province. 


Chinandcfja,  the  chief  place  in  the  north-west  on  the  Honduras  route,  compi-ises 
two  distinct  townships.  El  Viejo,  on  the  slope  of  the  mountain  of  like  name,  and 
the  new  town  a  few  miles  to  the  south-east,  to  which  the  name  of  Chinaudega  is 
now  exclusively  applied.  It  was  at  one  time  a  flourishing  place,  but  it  has  lost 
its  trade  since  the  encroachments  of  the  land  on  its  ports  of  Tempisque  in  the  north 
and  Realcjo  in  the  west.  The  present  harbour  of  Corinto  is  sheltered  by  the  island 
of  Cardon,  and  affords  excellent  anchorage  in  22  feet  of  water  at  ebb  and  40  at 
flow.  Corinto,  which  exports  large  quantities  of  dyewoods,  is  by  far  the  busiest 
seaport  on  the  Paciiic  side. 

Leon,  the  chief  citj'  of  the  republic,  lies  between  Lake  Managua  and  the  two 
estuaries  of  Corinto  and  the  Estero  Real.  At  the  time  of  the  conquest  its  pre- 
decessor, the  Indian  city  of  Subtiaba,  contained  a  population  of  about  100,000. 
But  the  first  Spanish  town  of  the  district  was  founded  in  1523,  not  on  the  plain 
dominated  eastwards  by  the  Marrabios  chain,  but  at  Imhita,  on  the  south-west  side 
of  Lake  Nicaragua.  Owing  to  various  disasters,  the  settlement  was  afterwards 
removed  to  the  vicinity  of  Subtiaba,  capital  of  the  Nagrandan  nation.  The  new 
city,  seat  of  the  administration,  soon  became  a  flourishing  place,  and  the  English 
buccaneers  who  sacked  it  in  1680  carried  off  a  vast  amount  of  booty. 

At  the  close  of  the  eighteenth  century,  Leon  and  Subtiaba  were  said  to  have 
a  collective  population  of  50,000  ;  but  during  the  present  century  this  number  has 
been  greatly  reduced,  especially  by  wars  and  civil  strife.  In  recent  years  Leon 
has  somewhat  recovered  its  losses,  and  it  is  now  connected  by  rail  with  Corinto 
and  the  other  isthmian  towns.  The  neighbouring  thermal  waters  are  little  fre- 
quented, the  whole  region  round  about  the  city  being  still  almost  a  wilderness. 
During  the  rainy  season  Leon  is  exposed  to  frequent  inundations,  and  the  rudely 
paved  streets  at  times  resemble  mountain  torrents,  the  water  surging  up  to  the 
very  eaves  of  the  houses. 

Managua,  the  present  capital  of  the  state,  was  till  the  middle  of  the  century  a 
mere  hamlet  standing  on  the  site  of  an  Indian  city  some  00  feet  above  the  level  of 
Lake  Managua.  In  the  neighbourhood  are  the  little  closed  basins  or  tarns  of 
Tiscapa,  Nejapa,  Asososca,  and  Apoyo,  old  craters  which,  after  bursting,  were 
flooded  with  a  brackish  water,  differing  in  its  saline  properties  according  to  the 
nature  of  the  surrounding  soil  and  lavas.  The  neighbouring  plains,  formerly 
under  cotton,  are  now  covered  with  coffee  plantations. 

Beyond  Tipitapa  and  the  intermittent  stream   bearing  its  name,  stretch  the 



forests  abounding  in  Brazil  wood  {ctvsalj>inia  criqm).  The  black  marshy  lands 
on  the  east  side  of  the  lake  take  the  name  oijica rales  from  the  Jicaro,  or  calabash- 
tree,  which  is  here  the  prevailing  species,  and  whose  fruit  supplies  the  natives 
with  nearly  all  their  domestic  utensils. 

Granada,  like  Leon,  is  one  of  the  oldest  places  in  Nicaragua,  having  been 
founded  in  1523  by  Francisco  de  Cordoba,  near  the  Indian  city  of  Salfeba  (Jalfcba), 
now  one  of  its  suburbs.  The  fame  of  its  wealth  and  of  the  great  fertility  of  the 
district  more  than  once  attracted  the  attention  of  the  corsairs,  who,  in  1665,  and 
again  in  1670,  ascended  the  San  Juan   and  crossed  Lake  Nicaragua  to  sack  and 

Fig.  123.— Dexsity  or  the  Population  op  Hont)ukas  ajtd  Nicakagua. 
Scale  1  :  7,500,000. 

Inliabitanfs  per  square  mile. 

n      a 

Under  2.  2  to  10. 

10  to  20. 

20  to  30. 

30  to  10. 
121  Milea. 

40  to  60.       60  and  upwards. 

burn  the  city.  Some  fifteen  years  afterwards  another  band  of  English  and  French 
buccaneers  attacked  it  from  the  Pacific  side  ;  but  before  its  capture  most  of  the 
inhabitants  had  time  to  escape  with  their  valuables  to  the  archipelagoes  of  Lake 
Nicaragua.  It  again  suffered  during  the  expedition  of  the  filibuster,  William 
Walker,  who  set  fire  to  it  before  abandoning  it  in  1856. 

Granada  lies  on  the  scarp  of  the  plateau  on  the  north-west  side  of  Lake 
Nicaragua.  Its  buildings  lay  no  claim  to  architectural  beauty,  and  it  owes  its  chief 
importance  to  its  schools,  its  trade  and  industries.  Several  landing-places  follow 
along  the  neighbouring  shore ;  but  Charco  Muerto  is  the  only  town  possessing  a 


good  haven.  It  lies  far  to  the  south,  and  is  sheltered  by  Zapatcra  Island  from 
the  trade  winds. 

The  department  of  Granada  is  by  far  the  most  densely  peopled  in  the  state, 
and  here  several  important  towns  and  communes  are  scattered  over  the  fertile 
plains.  The  most  flourishing  place  is  Masaija,  which  has  a  population  of  some 
15,000  mestizoes.  It  stands  north-west  of  Granada  on  the  plateau  commanded  on 
the  west  by  the  volcano  of  like  name,  not  far  from  the  lovely  Nindiri,  a  true 
"garden  of  the  Hesperides."  The  surrounding  farmers  and  peasantry  are  a 
prosperous  and  industrious  people,  engaged  in  various  crafts,  such  as  weaving, 
pottery,  leather  dressing,  saddlery,  and  producing  a  thousand  objects  of  local 

Jinotepe,  south-west  of  Masaya,  stands  at  an  elevation  of  2,520  feet  amid 
productive  coffee  plantations,  while  Nandaime,  in  a  rich  valley  sloping  towards 
the  bay  of  Charco  Muerto,  is  surrounded  by  thriving  cacao  farms  ;  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood is  the  famous  Val  Menier  domain,  the  produce  of  which  commands  too 
high  a  price  to  serve  for  the  preparation  of  ordinary  chocolate.  About  five  miles 
west  of  Nandaime  are  the  ruins  of  Nandaime  Viejo,  supposed  to  have  been  des- 
troyed by  an  earthquake.  "    "■ 

Eiras,  standing  at  the  narrowest  part  of  the  isthmus  between  Lake  Nicaragua 
and  the  Pacific,  might  claim  to  be  regarded  as  the  "  metropolis  "  of  the  republic. 
Here  resided  the  Niquiran  chief,  Nicarao,  who,  according  to  most  of  the  chroni- 
clers, gave  his  name  to  the  state ;  here  began  the  work  of  conversion  and  of  con- 
quest, and  here  Bobadilla  baptized  over  29,000  persons  in  the  space  of  nine  days. 
Yet  no  Spanish  settlement  has  been  made  in  this  favoured  district,  and  the  Indian 
village  of  Nicarao-calli  was  not  raised  to  the  rank  of  a  town  till  the  year  1720, 
greatly  to  the  disgust  of  its  rival,  Granada.  It  long  bore  the  name  of  "  Nicaragua," 
but  since  the  beginning  of  the  present  centiuy  that  of  Rivas  has  prevailed.  The 
town  is  continued  for  miles  through  a  highly-productive  district  by  the  scattered 
villages  of  Obrage,  Potosi,  Bueiiayrc,  while  eastwards  it  descends  to  its  port  of  San 
Jorge  on  Lake  Nicaragua. 

On  the  Pacific  coast  the  hamlets  of  Brito  and  San  Juan  del  Stir  {Concordia)  are 
names  associated  with  the  engineering  projects  for  piercing  the  isthmus  by  a 
navigable  canal,  and  sooner  or  later  the  opening  of  this  interoceanic  highway  will 
confer  on  Brito  the  celebrity  now  enjoyed  by  Suez  and  Panama ;  yet  its  harbour, 
scarcely  70  acres  in  extent,  is  so  exposed  that  it  will  have  to  be  sheltered  by  costly 
breakwaters.  On  the  other  hand  the  magnificent  haven  of  Salinas  Bay,  common 
to  Nicaragua  and  Costa  Hica,  has  no  settlements  on  its  shores,  and  is  entirely 
neglected  except  for  the  exploitation  of  the  Bolanos  salt-pans.  The  haven  is  an 
almost  circular  basin,  over  20  square  miles  in  extent,  sheltered  from  the  surf  and 
ranging  in  depth  from  40  to  80  feet.  A  cutting  across  an  intervening  sandy 
isthmus  might  connect  it  with  the  equally  safe  bay  of  Santa  Elena. 

Compared  with  the  western  seaboard,  the  Atlantic  coastlands  might  almost  be 
called  uninhabited,  all  the  civilised  populations  being  concentrated  on  the  uplands 
near  the  waterparting  between  the  lacustrine  and   Atlantic  basins.     Throughout 


its  whole  extent  the  great  valley  of  the  Rio  Segovia  has  only  one  town,  Ocotal,  capital 
of  the  department  of  Segovia.  The  first  Scgocia,  founded  in  1524,  soon  became  a 
flourishing  place  as  a  centre  of  the  gold  washings  in  all  the  surrounding  valleys, 
but  it  was  destroyed  in  1854  by  Morgan,  most  famous  of  all  the  TTest  Indian  buc- 
caneers. Rebuilt  in  a  more  protected  position,  it  was  again  attacked  by  the  ilos- 
quitos  corsairs,  and  had  to  be  shifted  a  third  and  a  fourth  time  to  sites  farther  and 
farther  removed  from  the  coast. 

The  present  "  Segovia,"  better  known  by  the  name  of  Ocotal,  stands  at  an 
altitude  of  over  2,000  feet  on  the  left  bank  of  the  "Wanks  (Coco),  in  a  mineral  dis- 
trict abounding  in  gold,  silver,  copper,  iron  and  tin.  Further  down,  nothing  is 
met  except  a  few  Indian  camping-grounds,  one  of  which,  Koom,  near  the  estuary 
at  Cape  Gracias-a-Dios,  was  formerly  the  residence  of  a  Sambo  "  king." 

The  upper  valley  is  somewhat  more  settled  than  that  of  the  TYanks.  Mata- 
galpa,  capital  of  the  department  of  like  name,  has  the  advantage  of  easy  access  to 
Lake  Nicaragua,  although  its  waters  drain  to  the  Atlantic.  It  is  a  thriAing  place, 
surrounded  by  rapidly-spreading  coffee  plantations. 

Jinotega,  on  the  opposite  side  of  an  intervening  ridge,  is  also  a  prosperous  town, 
whose  cultivated  lands  are  steadily  encroaching  on  the  neighbouring  pine  forests. 
The  uplands  of  this  region  are  also  rich  in  the  precious  metals,  and  near  the  Indian 
Tillage  of  Sehaco  are  seen  numerous  galleries,  whence  the  natives  drew  large 
quantities  of  gold.  The  auriferous  sands  of  Frincipolca  have  also  attracted  many 
immigrants  from  the  Zamba  territory. 

Acoyapa,  or  San  Sebaiiian,  capital  of  the  department  of  Chontales,  stands  on 
the  site  of  a  formerly  populous  city,  but  is  itself  a  mere  village  near  the  east  shore 
of  Lake  Nicaragua,  where  it  possesses  the  port  of  San  TJhaUo.  In  the  same  dis- 
trict, but  farther  north  at  the  foot  of  the  Sierra  Amerrique,  stands  the  town  of 
Juigalpa — in  Aztec,  the  "Great  City" — which  appears  to  have  been  a  large  centre 
of  population,  to  judge,  at  least,  from  the  numerous  ruins,  the  disinterred  idols,  and 
still  undeciphered  inscriptions  covering  the  surrounding  rocks. 

Liberiad,  on  the  opposite  or  Atlantic  side  of  the  sierra,  is  the  capital  of  a  pro- 
ductive mining  district,  but  the  excessive  moisture  renders  its  cKmate  highly 
insalubrious.  Farther  east  the  basin  of  the  Blewfields  is  almost  uninhabited  as 
far  as  the  great  lagoon  of  Uke  name.  Here  stands  the  village  of  Bleirfields,  a 
former  nest  of  pirates,  and  residence  of  the  ilosqtutos  chief,  who  takes  the  redun- 
dant Anglo-Spanish  title  of  "Rey-King."  This  potentate,  formerly  protected  by 
Great  Britain,  but  now  a  pensioner  of  Nicaragua,  administers  all  the  villages  of 
the  ilosquitos  Coast  for  a  space  of  about  150  miles  between  the  Hueso  and  Rama 
Rivers  north  and  south. 

Blewfields  is  also  the  centre  of  the  Protestant  missions  and  English  schools 
along  the  seaboard.  It  is  surrounded  by  extensive  banana  and  other  plantations, 
and  since  1883  it  has  developed  a  considerable  trade  in  cocoanuts,  pineapples, 
oranges,  and  other  fruits  with  New  Orleans. 

The  shores  of  the  Pearl  Lagoon  as  well  as  the  neighbouring  Corn  Islands  have 
also  become  busy  agricultural  centres.     Oysters  abound  along  the  coast  lagoons. 



although  the  vast  kitchen-middens  of  the  surrounding  forests  contain  none  of  these 
bivalves.     Potsherds  and  little  human  figures  have  been  found  in  the  refuse. 

San  Carlos,  on  the  left  bank  of  the  San  Juan  where  it  escapes  from  the  lake,  is 
a  mere  group  of  cabins,  commanded  by  a  ruined  fort.  But  according  to  Belly, 
this  is  the  site  of  the  future  Constantinople  of  the  American  Bosj^horus.  CaHtillo, 
a  little  farther  down,  is  the  most  important  station  between  the  lake  and  San  Juan 
del  Norte,  often  called  Greijtoim  since  the  time  of  its  occupation  by  the  English. 
This  town,  famous  in  the  history  of  the  wars  between  the  Spaniards  and  bucca- 

Fig.  121.— San  Juan  del  Noete  before  the  Consteuction  of  the  Piee. 

Scale  1  :  85,000. 

0  'o  16 


1<>(0  32 

32  Feet  and 

.  3,300  Yards. 

neers,  and  long  the  scene  of  English  and  American  rivalries,  is  the  only  seaport  of 
Nicaragua  on  the  Atlantic  side.  Its  little  white  wooden  houses,  with  their  smiling 
garden  plots,  trailing  plants,  and  shady  palm-groves,  are  surrounded  by  swampy 
tracts,  backwaters  and  channels,  alternately  flooded  and  filled  with  mud,  which  should 
make  Greytown  a  hotbed  of  fever.  Yet  according  to  the  testimony,  not  merely  of 
engineering  speculators,  but  of  disinterested  travellers,  it  is  really  one  of  the  least 
insalubrious  places  along  the  whole  seaboard.  This  is  mainly  due  to  the  porous 
nature  of  the  volcanic  matter  washed  down  by  the  river,  so  that  the  surface  waters 


rapidly  disappear,  carrying  witli  them  all  the  impiirities  of  the  soil,  while  the 
exhalations  are  continually  dissipated  by  the  prevailing  north-east  trade  winds. 

The  absence  of  a  port  at  Greytown  has  obliged  the  promoters  of  the  Xicara- 
guan  interoceanic  canal  to  construct  an  artificial  harbour  on  the  north-west  side 
of  the  delta.  A  jetty  projecting  l,-440  yards  seawards  has  enabled  the  stream  to 
sweep  away  the  sands  and  gradually  scour  the  channel  to  a  depth  of  seven  or  eight 
feet.  A  few  structures  on  the  beach  mark  the  site  of  the  future  ''  City  of  America," 
solemnly  founded  on  January  1,  1S90.  Xorth  of  this  place,  the  best  roadstead  is 
at  Monkey  Point  between  the  Blewfields  and  Rama  rivers,  and  it  was  here  that 
Bedford  Pirn  proposed  to  establish  the  Atlantic  terminus  of  his  transcontinental 
railway,  crossing  the  waterparting  at  a  height  of  760  feet.  The  promoters  of  the 
canal  are  now  connecting  the  Kama  vallev  with  the  harbour  of  San  Juan.  Thev 
will  thus  have  the  advantage  of  two  seaports  with  an  intervening  territory  suitable 
for  European  colonisation. 


Although  sparsely  peopled  relatively  to  the  vast  spaces  capable  of  settlement, 
Nicaragua,  like  the  sister  states,  is  steadily  increasing  in  population,  which 
advanced  from  nearly  13"2,000  in  1778  to  160,000  in  1813.  Since  then,  despite 
ci^il  strife  and  invasions,  progress  has  been  even  more  rapid,  the  returns  for  1846 
showing  257,000,  while  the  total  population  was  estimated  in  1890  at  375,000,  or 
nearly  six  to  the  square  mile.  The  birth-rate  is  at  present  on  an  average  double 
that  of  the  mortality. 

The  chief  products  of  Nicaragua  are  agricultural,  and  these  might  be  indefinitely 
increased  by  bringing  the  vacant  lands  under  tillage.  Coffee,  which  forms  the 
staple  of  the  export  trade,  comes  almost  exclusively  from  the  province  of  Granada. 
Next  in  importance  is  caoutchouc,  collected,  not  from  cultivated  plants,  but  from 
forest  growths  felled  by  the  Caribs  of  the  Atlantic  coastlands.  Bananas  are  yearly 
becoming  more  abundant,  thanks  to  the  increasing  demand  in  the  United  States. 
The  Xicaraguan  planters  also  export  cacao  and  sugar,  but  have  almost  ceased  to 
cultivate  indigo,  driven  from  the  markets  by  the  new  chemical  dyes. 

A  great  resource  of  the  republic  are  horned  cattle,  exported  both  to  Costa  Pica 
and  Honduras,  ilany  million  head  might  be  raised  on  the  grassy  plateaux  of 
Chontales,  where  the  herds  number  at  present  scarcely  more  than  1,200,000. 

Nicaragua  also  possesses  considerable  mineral  wealth,  though  mining  operations 
are  stiU  mostly  carried  on  in  a  primitive  way.  The  best-worked  mines  are  those  of 
Chontales,  which  have  long  been  owned  by  English  proprietors.  The  gold  washings 
of  the  streams  flowing  to  the  Atlantic  are  almost  entirely  in  the  hands  of  the 
Indians  and  Sambos  of  the  coastlands.  Mining,  such  as  it  is,  is  almost  the  only 
local  industry,  and  all  manufactured  wares,  except  some  coarse  textiles  and  furni- 
ture, are  imported  from  Europe  or  the  States.  The  chief  products  of  the  native 
craftsmen  are  the  earthenware  of  Somotillo,  the  hammocks  of  Subtiaba  and  Masaya, 
and  the  calabashes  of  Rivas  embelKshed  with  designs  in  relief. 

Foreign  trade  is  scarcely  developed,  amounting  to  scarcely  more  than  £2  per 

VOL.    XVII.  XI 



head  of  the  popuhitioii.      The  total  exchanges  amounted  in  1890  to  little  over 
£800,000,  most  of  the  trafBc  heing  with  the  United  States  and  Great  Britain. 

The  Nicaragua  Canal. 

But  trade  and  the  industries  will  be  powerfully  stimulated  by  the  completion  of 
the  interoceanic  canal  which  has  been  so  long  projected.  There  can  be  no  doubt 
that  the  isthmus  of  Nicaragua  is  by  far  the  most  suitable  region  for  a  canal  with 
locks,  the  line  to  be  followed  being  already  indicated  by  the  depression  of  Lake 
Nicaragua  and  its  emissary. 

It  has  even  been  proposed  to  cut  a  navigable  way  free  of  locks,  a  scheme  by 

Fig.  125. — Peojected  Inteeoceahic  Canals  aceoss  NiCAiLiGUA. 
Scale  1  : 5,200,000. 

West   oF    OreenwrcK 


5  Fathoms 
ami  upwards. 

Projected  Canal. 

0  to5 

Canalised  Eiver.  Railways  opened  and  projected. 

— ^— ^— ^— ^^^^_  124  Miles. 

which  the  great  basin  would  be  more  than  half  emptied  and  many  hundred  thousand 
acres  of  arable  land  reclaimed  in  the  very  heart  of  the  country.  But  a  cutting 
over  220  miles  long,  under  such  a  climate  and  without  slave  labour,  would  appear 
to  be  beyond  the  power  of  modern  industrial  resources. 

Projects  of  a  more  practical  nature  were  spoken  of  so  earlj'  as  the  time  of  the 
conquest,  and  even  under  the  Spanish  rule  the  buccaneer,  Edwards  David,  con- 
ceived the  idea  of  a  cutting  between  the  lake  and  the  Pacific.  In  1780,  the 
engineer,  Martin  de  la  Bastide,  proposed  such  a  canal,  and  the  next  j-ear  the 
Madrid  Government  undertook  a  first  survey  of  the  ground  with  a  view  to  its 



Immediately  after  the  declaration  of  independence,  the  new  republic  decreed 
the  accomplishment  of  this  work,  but  failed  to  supply  the  means  for  its  execution. 
After  the  discussion  of  various  plans  and  counter- j)lans,  a  first  scheme  for  a  canal 
terminating  at  San  Juan  del  Sur  (Concordia),  on  the  Pacific,  was  propounded  by 
John  Bailey  in  1843. 

Since  that  time  various  other  schemes  have  followed,  but  without  obtaining  the 
necessary  capital.  The  failure,  however,  of  the  Panama  undertaking  has  revived 
the  hopes  of  speculatoi  s,  who  propose  to  carry  the  interoceanic  route  through  the 
Lake  of  Nicaragua.  The  works  were,  in  fact,  actually  commenced  at  the  end  of 
the  year  1889,  though  not,  as  the  financial  world  expected,  at  the  expense  of  the 
United  States  Government.  The  estimated  cost  is  fixed  at  £15,000,000,  and  a 
period  of  six  years  assigned  for  the  completion  of  the  work,  which  will  have  a  total 

126. — Lower  San  Juan  Canal. 

Scale  1  :  iViri  000. 



'^=-  ^-^^ 



■  '"■.■.*;'-•■  '•  ..■--"■-'<^ 

Ajlmerica  '^^^^rt^i^r^ 



^^^^^\a5^^    / 

;  .  *           .                            '           ■  "  \ 

h  '/■=4''t''f  '-Sif'*^'^^^ 

Y i — 

-■  '-              i      "       .  "  "  =\ 

■^'-  /■•^"^7,>-lii43^'-'- •  J  ■ 

y- — -^ — 

■'.ft  '•■.•s>'''\     -i^"^ 

^A^ssiifl^if.  1,. 

<--'y/^  J 




^  ''■  fSi.SMco     1 





<'      .As^^SSSn  _\ 

■/    ^S       <^^ 

'     \r?^  V 

i   Msirtsti  ^^ 

■'■.■■[ -rmif--:  ■'■  J- 

/          C>J\»;         'Jr^ 


1--  \'  .v  • 

1  >^^.- 

.;.  ^ 


-^-      ^" 


West  oF  G^ee^w,c^l                  8-4' 



Oto  5 

6  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

1-'  Miles. 

length  of  170  miles,  of  which  140  of  open  navigation  through  the  lake,  and  not 
more  than  30  through  ship  canals.  We  are  assured  that  vessels  of  the  heaviest 
draught  will  take  only  30  hours  to  pass  from  ocean  to  ocean,  and  that  the  cutting 
will  admit  32  such  vessels  per  day,  or  11,680,  of  about  12,000,000  tons,  a  year. 

The  San  Juan  discharges  a  volume  sufiiclent  for  hundreds  of  canals,  but  its 
course  is  too  shifting,  its  current  too  irregular  and  too  charged  with  alluvia  to 
allow  of  its  being  canalised  and  adapted  for  the  navigation  of  large  vessels. 
Hence  it  will  be  necessary  to  keep  the  canal  quite  distinct  from  the  river  through- 
out its  lower  course,  where  it  receives  the  great  tributaries  from  Costa  Rica.  This 
cutting,  joining  the  river  in  its  tranquil  upper  course,  will  be  supplied  with  three 
locks,  each  550  feet  long,  by  means  of  which  the  vessels  will  be  brought  to  the 
level  of  the  lake,  which  stands  over  110  feet  above  the  Atlantic  at  low  water.     It 




will  have  a  depth  of  29  or  30  feet,  and  a  miuimum  breadth  of  80  feet  on  its  bed, 
with  sidings  at  the  narrowest  parts. 

Above  the  upper  lock,  which  will  have  to  be  separated  by  an  embankment 
from  the  mouth  of  the  San  Carlos,  the  ships  will  pass  into  the  lake  and  traverse 
it  obliquely  to  a  second  canal,  whence  they  will  descend  to  the  Pacific  through  an 
artificial  lake  and  the  Rio  Grande.  But  Lake  Nicaragua  itself  will  have  to  be 
deepened  in  its  south-eastern  section,  where  its  bed  has  been  raised  by  the  alluvial 

Fig.  127. — Political  Divisions  of  Nicaeaofa. 
Scale  1  :  5,000,000. 






: 94  Miles. 


matter  washed  down  by  the  Eio  Frio  from  the  Costa  Rica  highlands.  The  Pacific 
Canal  will  be  partly  transformed  by  huge  dykes  to  lakes  at  different  levels 
terminating  at  the  port  of  Brito. 

Such  is  the  magnificent  project  first  conceived  by  Thome  de  Gamoud  in  1858, 
then  adopted  with  modifications  by  other  engineers,  especially  Menocal,  and  now 
in  process  of  realisation.      But  will  the  estimated  sum  suffice  for  the  construction 

COSTA  BTCA.  293 

of  sucli  prodigious  ■works,  gigantic  locks,  large  harbours  in  stormy  seas,  channels 
maintained  at  a  constant  depth,  despite  the  invasions  of  sedimentary  matter  brought 
down  by  impetuous  moimtain  streams  ?  On  the  other  hand,  the  annual  increase  of 
the  world's  trade,  and  the  necessity  of  opening  a  navigable  highway  by  which 
thousands  of  vessels  will  be  spared  a  voyage  of  over  9,000  miles  round  Cape 
Horn,  render  the  execution  of  this  gigantic  work  more  and  more  probable. 

But  its  successful  completion  is  full  of  dangers  for  the  republic  itself.  "WTien 
the  canal  has  become  the  great  highway  between  Xew  York  and  San  Francisco, 
and  the  all-powerful  company  finds  itself  mistress  of  the  route  with  a  vast  army 
of  employes  at  its  disposal,  how  can  the  feeble  and  sparsely-peopled  state  hope  to 
maintain  its  independence  against  the  "  manifest  destinies  "  of  the  Xorth  American 
Anglo-Saxon  nation  ? 



In  her  political  institutions,  Nicaragua  difFers  little  from  the  other  Central 
American  states.  By  imiversal  sufFrage  are  erected  two  chambers,  a  senate  of 
18  members  for  six  years,  and  a  lower  house  of  21  representatives  for  four 
years.  The  president  is  also  nominated  for  the  same  period,  and  is  assisted  by  a 
council  of  four  ministers,  or  secretaries,  for  foreign  affairs,  finance,  public  works, 
and  the  interior. 

The  standing  army  comprises  a  few  hundred  men,  with  1,200  custom-house 
officers,  and  a  reserve  of  over  15,000  liable  to  serve  in  case  of  civil  or  foreign  war. 
The  revenue,  Hke  that  of  the  neighbouring  states,  is  largely  derived  from  tobacco, 
spirits,  and  gxmpowder  monopolies,  supplemented  by  the  customs  and  some  minor 
imposts.  Most  of  the  expenditure  is  absorbed  by  public  works,  instruction,  postal 
and  telegraph  services.  Nicaragua,  unlike  Honduras,  has  hitherto  escaped  the 
financial  speculators,  and  the  public  debt  amounted  in  1890  to  about  £600,000,  with 
a  mortgage  on  the  93  mUes  of  railway,  altogether  little  more  than  one  year's  income. 

In  the  Appendix  are  given  the  eight  administrative  divisions  with  their  areas 
and  populations. 

TI.— Costa  PacA. 

Next  to  Salvador,  Costa  Eica  is  the  smallest  of  the  Central  American  states  in 
extent,  while  its  population  is  absolutely  the  smallest.  It  may  be  described  as 
little  more  than  a  narrow  strip  of  territory  forming  a  terrace  or  plateau  between 
the  two  oceans  at  a  mean  elevation  of  3,500  feet,  and  intersected  by  a  volcanic 
range  double  that  height.  But  it  is  occupied  by  a  somewhat  homogeneous  people, 
who  present  a  certain  originality  amongst  Hispano-Amcrican  communities,  and 
whose  progress  has  been  less  interrupted  than  that  of  the  sister  states  by  foreign 
wars  and  civil  strife. 

In  some  respects,  Costa  Rica  is  the  model  republic  of  Central  America,  as  well 
as  one  of  the  most  prosperous,  not  so  much  on  account  of  its  mineral  wealth,  as 
might  be  supposed  fi-om  its  name,  as  of  its  agricultural  resources.      This  term 



"  Rich  Coast,"  given  formerly  to  the  whole  of  the  south-western  shores  of  the 
Caribbean  Sea,  that  is,  to  the  Gulf  of  Columbus  taken  in  its  widest  sense,  was 
later  restricted  mainly  to  the  district  of  Yeragua  in  Colombia,  where  gold  had  been 
discovered.  But  the  present  Costa  Rica,  at  first  known  as  Nueva  Cartage,  was 
found  so  little  productive  by  its  first  white  settlers,  that,  according  to  some  writers, 
the  name  of  "  Rich  Coast "  was  retained  by  a  sort  of  antiphrasis. 

Like  the  other  Central  American  republics,  Costa  Rica  has  scarcely  ceased  to 

Fig   12S.— Gulf  of  ColitiIbus. 
Scale  1  :  5,000,000. 

We=c   oF  Cr 




50  to  1.000 

I, Olio  to  1,500 

1.500  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

,  124  Miles. 

be  troubled  with  frontier  questions,  which,  especially  with  Nicaragua,  have  at 
times  led  to  sanguinary  conflicts.  The  Nicoya  and  Guanacaste  districts,  at  present 
the  most  important  region  of  the  state  on  the  Pacific  side,  formed  at  one  time  a 
part  of  the  province  of  Nicaragua,  the  natural  limit  between  the  two  countries 
being  the  Gulf  of  Nicoya.  But  during  the  first  years  of  independence,  political 
discussions  waxed  so  furious  in  Nicaragua,  that  those  more  peacefully-disposed 



districts  petitioned  the  Central  American  Government  to  be  annexed  to  Costa  Rica 
until  order  could  be  restored.  But  tbe  arrangement  has  been  maintained,  and  is 
now  officially  confirmed  by  treaty  between  the  conterminous  states. 

But  in  the  San  Juan  basin  on  the  Atlantic  side,  the  conflict  became  more 
serious  ;  here  the  ri\cr  is  a  natural  highway  of  trade  between  the  two  republics, 
so  that  any  frontier  excluding  Costa  Rica  from  this  outlet  for  her  produce  would 
have  deeply  affected  her  interests.  The  treatj'  of  1858,  ratified  in  1888  by  the 
arbitration  of  the  United  States  president,  definitely  settled  this  question,  assign- 
ing to  Costa  Rica  the  right  bank  from  the  delta  to  within  three  miles  of  the 

Tig.  129. — One  of  the  Theee  Chatees  of  Poas. 

fortifications  of  Castillo ;  then  the  line  is  deflected  eight  miles  south  and  east  of 
this  place,  beyond  which  it  follows  all  the  windings  of  the  river  and  of  Lake 
Nicaragua  at  a  distance  of  two  miles  to  the  mouth  of  the  Rio  de  la  Flor,  which 
enters  the  Pacific  a  little  north  of  Salinas  Bay. 

On  the  side  of  Colombia  the  southern  frontier  is  clearly  indicated  by  the  long 
promontory  of  Punta  Burica  j^rojecting  into  the  Pacific,  while  on  the  north  or 
Atlantic  coast,  Costa  Rica  claims  Chiriqui  Bay  and  its  islands,  including  the 
Escudo  de  Veragua  off  the  coast.  On  the  other  hand,  Colombia  claims  not  only 
the  whole  of  Chiriqui  Bay,  but  even  that  of  the  Almirante  as  far  as  the  Boca  del 
Drago.  The  question  has  been  submitted  to  the  arbitration  of  Spain  ;  but  in  such 
matters  diplomatic  records  are  of  less  consequence  than  the  wish  of  the  jjeople. 


Physical  Features. 

Taken  as  a  whole  Costa  Rica  may  be  regarded  as  an  elevated  tableland  domi- 
nating tbe  flooded  Nicaraguan  depression.  Immediately  to  the  south  of  this  vast 
basin,  the  hills  rise  from  tier  to  tier  to  the  crest  of  the  igneous  cordillera  which 
is  disposed  north-west  and  south-east.  Within  some  20  miles  to  the  south  of 
the  narrow  zone  between  Salinas  Bay  and  Lake  Nicaragua,  the  Orosi  volcano, 
which  still  emits  a  few  jets  of  vapour  from  its  verdure-clad  crater,  rises  to  a 
height  of  8,700  feet. 

Beyond  it  follows  the  almost  isolated  four-crested  Riucon  de  la  Yieja,  and 
still  in  the  same  south-easterly  direction  the  Miravalles  peak  (4,720  feet), 
crowned  with  an  extinct  forest-clad  crater.  Miravalles  and  its  neighbour, 
Tenorio,  are  continued  south-eastwards  by  the  Cerros  de  los  Guatusos,  which  for 
about  GO  miles  are  destitute  of  a  single  igneous  cone.  But  towards  the  centre 
of  the  isthmus  the  Poas  volcano  rises  to  a  height  of  8,700  feet,  and  terminates 
in  three  craters,  one  flooded  with  a  lake  which  drains  through  the  Rio  Angel  to 
the  Sarapiqui,  and  another  filled  with  hot  water  from  which  vajjours  are  still 
occasionally  emitted  to  a  great  height.  In  1834  it  was  the  scene  of  a  violent 
eruption ;  but  Barba,  its  eastern  neighbour,  has  long  been  quiescent,  its  terminal 
crater  (9,000  feet)  being  also  flooded,  like  so  many  others  in  this  region. 

Farther  on  stands  Irazu,  giant  of  the  Costa  Rican  volcanoes,  which  rises  to 
the  north  of  Cartago,  and  from  whose  summit  a  wide  prospect  is  commanded  of 
both  oceans,  and  of  the  whole  of  Costa  Rica  from  the  Orosi  peak  to  Mount  Rovalo. 
Yet  it  slopes  so  gently  that  the  traveller  may  reach  its  culminating  point,  a  little 
over  11,200  feet,  mounted  on  a  mule.  The  lower  flanks  are  covered  with  maize, 
tobacco,  and  other  plantations,  diversified  with  pasturage  and  terminating  with 
oak  forests.  The  hamlet  of  Birris,  highest  inhabited  sj)ot  in  the  republic,  stands 
at  an  altitude  of  9,400  feet. 

Turialba  (11,000  feet),  last  cone  going  eastwards,  has  greatly  contributed  by 
its  explosions  to  modify  the  general  relief  of  the  land.  Since  the  eruf)tion  of 
18G6  it  has  never  ceased  to  eject  copious  vapours,  accompanied  now  and  then  with 
some  ashes.  .  Its  name  is  said  to  be  a  corrupt  form  of  the  Latin  film's  (iJba, 
"  White  Tower,"  though  Thiol  and  Pittier  have  shown  that  the  word  is  of  Indian 

Tlie  Costa  Rican  igneous  chain  does  not  run  parallel  with  the  Pacific,  but 
trends  in  a  slightly  oblique  direction  to  the  general  axis  of  this  part  of  the  penin- 
sula, even  developing  a  gentle  curve  with  its  convex  side  facing  southwards 
and  its  more  lofty  section  disposed  transversely  towards  the  Atlantic.  It  appears 
from  Pittier's  observations  that  the  older  cones  began  their  eruptions  early  in 
secondary  times,  when  the  range  stood  in  the  midst  of  the  sea,  running  in  the 
same  way  as  the  insular  volcanoes  of  the  Hawaii  archipelago.  The  former 
existence  of  such  an  archipelago  is  shown  hy  the  sedimentary  matter  now  filling 
the  intervals  between  the  igneous  crests. 

According  to  the  same  authority  some  of  the  Costa  Rican  cones  have  ejected 



no  lavas  during  the  historic  period,  although  both  Turialba  and  Irazu  Have  dis- 
charged vast  quantities  of  ashes,  which,  under  the  influence  of  the  trade  winds, 
have  been  deposited  on  their  south-west  slopes. 

The    plateaux  stretching  south  of  the  volcanic  system,  and  eroded  on  both 


sides  by  running  waters,  formerly  contained  lakes  in  their  cavities.  The  Alajuela, 
San  Jose  and  Cartago  depressions  had  also  their  lacustrine  basins,  which  were 
gradually  emptied  by  the  erosion  of  the  encircling  walls. 

Earthquakes  are  very   frequent,   but  are   seldom   violent,  and  the  vibrations 



are  rarely  felt  at  any  great  distance  from  the  base  of  the  volcanoes.  But  at 
the  end  of  the  year  1888  several  severe  shocks,  coinciding  with  the  discharges  of 
mud  and  water  from  Peas  and  Irazu,  damaged  the  buildings  of  the  neighbouring 
towns  and  overthrew  some  villages.  A  comparative  study  of  the  local  seismic 
phenomena  and  of  the  rainfall  during  seventeen  consecutive  years  has  led  Pittier 
to  the  conclusion  that  the  return  of  igneous  activity  and  of  underground  dis- 
turbances is  a  direct  consequence  of  the  tropical  rains  penetrating  to  the  caver- 
nous recesses  under  the  volcanoes. 

South  of  the  igneous  system  the  Costa  Rican  uplands  are  interrupted  by  the 
valleys  of  the  Rio  Grande  de  Tarcoles  flowing  to  the  Pacific,  and  of  the  Eeven- 

Fig.  131. — Plateau  &yD  Volcanoes  of  Costa  Rica. 

ScIp  1   :  1.200,000. 


;  \ 

K^**  18     if  ^^^     '      J5'*  ^  \i)^- 

r  „  « 

•      ) 

-^"■^-j^y  ^K  \, 

A?  .._:>•' 

84  iu 

u^-"      *     '    g"  ,.sar„jgc:JimPi„t.'f    ■-,.,:.  afe 

West    oF   breenw  en  6^      0 

,  18  Miles. 

tazon  descending  to  the  Caribbean  Sea.  The  sources  of  these  streams  are  inter- 
mingled about  the  Ochomogo  Pass  (1,100  feet),  which,  at  a  former  geological 
epoch,  was  flooded  by  one  of  the  marine  channels  connecting  the  two  oceans. 
South  of  this  depression  stretches  an  almost  unknown  region  of  wooded  uplands 
some  8,000  square  miles  in  extent,  but  apparently  without  any  igneous  cones. 
According  to  the  natives.  Mount  Herradura  (Turubale.s),  at  the  southern  entrance 
to  the  Gulf  of  Nicoya,  has  occasionally  emitted  some  light  vapours ;  rumbling 
sounds  are  even  said  to  be  heard  at  regular  intervals  in  the  interior  of  the  moun- 
tain, but  these  statements  are  doubted  by  Pittier,  who  denies  that  Herradura  is  a 
volcano  at  all.  It  is  connected  by  a  lateral  ridge  with  the  Dota  mountains,  a 
section  of   the  main  range   traversing    the   isthmus   midway  between   the   two 



oceans.  Above  the  ridge  rise  at  intervals  a  number  of  lofty  summits,  such  as 
the  Cerro  Chiripo,  in  the  Cabecar  district,  Mount  Ujum  (9,700  feet),  Nemur, 
Kamuk,  or  Pico  Blanco  (9,600),  and  lastly,  Eovalo  (7,000),  close  to  the  Colombian 

A  striking  resemblance  in  their  general  outline  is  presented  by  the  two  penin- 
sular masses  of  Nicoya  and  the  Golfo  Dulce  on  the  Pacific  seaboard.      Both  consist 

Fig.  132  —Gulf  of  Xicota. 
Scale  1  :  'W.CiXl. 


ViestoF  Ljreen^vicH 



0  toS 

5  to  25 


25  to  50 

SCO  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

12  Maes. 

of  a  mountain  range  disposed  parallel  with  the  mainland,  with  which  they  are 
connected  by  narrow  strips  of  lowlands.  The  Punta  Burica,  at  the  Colombian 
frontier,  belongs  to  the  same  line  of  promontories,  which  is  continued  south  of  the 
province  of  Panama  by  the  island  of  Coiba,  the  large  peninsula  of  Azuero  and 
the  Pearl  Islands. 

These  chains  and  detached  insular  or  peninsular  masses  describe  collectively  a 
regular  curve  of   about  550  miles,  which   is  perfectly  concentric  with  the  curve 


presented  by  the  mainland  itself  between  Lake  Nicaragua  and  the  Gulf  of  Panama. 
The  highest  crest  of  this  outer  Costa  Eican  coast-range  appears  to  culminate 
towards  its  southern  extremity  in  a  peak  not  more  than  '2,000  feet  high. 


The  strips  of  coastlands  on  both  sides  of  the  central  uplands  are  too  narrow 
for  the  development  of  any  large  fluvial  basins.  Even  the  most  copious  streams, 
the  San  Carlos  and  Sarapiqui,  become  merged  in  the  San  Juan  before  reaching  the 
Caribbean  Sea.  The  Colorado,  which,  on  the  contrary,  now  receives  nearly  the 
whole  discharge  of  the  San  Juan,  flows  entirely  in  Costa  Rican  territory,  where  its 
waters  are  intermingled  by  lateral  channels  with  those  of  the  Sarapiqui.  From 
the  north-east  slopes  of  the  uplands,  exposed  to  the  moist  trade  winds,  flows  the 
Parismina,  or  Reventazon,  which  has  a  much  larger  volume  than  might  be  supposed 
from  the  length  of  its  course.  On  the  same  side  follow  several  other  rios,  such  as 
the  Sicsola,  and  the  Tilorio,  or  Changuinola,  which  Peralta  identifies  with  the  old 
Rio  de  la  EstreUa,  famous  in  the  local  legends  for  its  auriferous  sands.  The  same 
name  of  Estrella  has  also  been  given  to  another  less  copious  stream,  which  flows 
farther  north  near  Cahuita  Point,  and  where  the  alluvia  are  still  washed  for 

On  the  drier  Pacific  slopes  the  watercourses  are  less  copious  in  proportion  to 
their  length.  Nevertheless  three  of  them  bear  the  name  of  Rio  Grande  :  the  Rio 
Grande  de  Terraba,  which  reaches  the  coast  at  the  head  of  the  Golfo  Dulce  ;  the 
Rio  Grande  de  Pirris,  which  flows  south  of  the  mountains  terminating  in  the 
western  headland  of  Herradura,  and  the  Rio  Grande  de  Tarcoles,  which  rises  at 
the  Ochomogo  Pass,  and  which,  after  its  junction  with  the  Tiribi,  the  more  copious 
of  the  two,  enters  the  sea  opposite  the  southern  extremity  of  the  Nicoya  peninsula. 
Farther  north  the  Tempisque  flows  to  the  head  of  the  Gulf  of  Nicoya  after  travers- 
ing the  low-lying  isthmus  which  was  formerly  a  marine  channel  between  the 
Nicoya  peninsula  and  the  mainland. 

All  these  streams  tend  by  their  alluvia  to  raise  the  bed  of  the  gulf ;  but  a  more 
potent  cause  is  the  south-east  marine  current  which  sweeps  into  the  basin  all  the 
organic  refuse  collected  on  the  neighbouring  coast. 

The  Gulf  of  Nicoya,  so  named  from  a  chief  whom  the  Spaniards  converted 
with  6,000  of  his  subjects,  rivals  the  Bay  of  Naples,  the  Bosphorus,  or  the 
Strait  of  Simonosaki  in  the  rhj^thmical  contour  of  its  shores  and  encircling  hills. 
Its  waters  are  studded  with  islands  of  all  sizes,  whose  deep  green  forest  vegetation 
contrasts  with  the  azure  hue  of  the  distant  mountains.  San  Lucas,  one  of  these 
islands,  resembling  Capri  in  outline,  is  famous  throughout  Central  America  for 
the  legendary  reports  of  the  vast  treasures  here  deposited  by  shipwrecked  corsairs. 
But  nothing  has  ever  been  brought  to  light  desjDite  the  numerous  expeditions 
equipped  to  discover  these  treasures. 

The  Golfo  Dulce,  that  is,  "Freshwater  Gulf,"  is  much  deeper  than  Nicoya, 
and  entirely  destitute  of  islands. 



CiJMATE,  Flora,  Fatxa. 

Like  Mexico  and  Guatemala,  Costa  Eica  offers  a  vertical  succession  of  the  three 
"hot,"  "  temperate,"  and  "  cold"  zones.  But  here  the  local  climates  and  the 
distribution  of  the  vegetable  species  are  endlessly  modified  by  the  varying  condi- 
tions of  altitude,  aspect,  and  general  environment.  In  general  the  climate  is 
essentially  oceanic,  and  well  regulated  by  the  winds  prevailing  on  both  seaboards. 
At  San  Jose,  the  mean  annual  temperature  exceeds  68"  Fahr.,  rising  gradually 
to  78°  towards  the  low-lying  coastlands,  and  falling  considerably  towards  the 

Fig.  133.— Guu  OF  DcLCE. 
Scale  1 :  950,000. 

63"40'        Vi  sst  op  Greenwich 

83"  10' 

0  to25 


25  Fathoms 
and  upwards. 

12  Miles. 

crests  of  the  mountains.  At  an  altitude  of  9,000  feet  Pittier  observed  films  of 
ice  on  the  margin  of  the  streams,  and  on  the  summit  of  Irazu  he  found  the  surface 
covered  with  hoar-frost. 

At  the  same  elevation  the  temperature  is  lower  on  the  Atlantic  than  on  the 
Pacific  slope,  but  it  is  more  oppressive,  the  atmosphere  being  more  charged  with 
moisture  from  the  prevailing  trade  winds.  On  the  west  side  the  seasons  follow 
very  regularly,  the  rains  falling  almost  exclusively  from  May  to  Xovember,  whereas 


on  the  east  side  wet  weather  may  be  said  to  last  throughout  the  year.     The  annual 
rainfall  rises  to  at  least  130  inches  in  the  Reventazon  and  Colorado  basins. 

Nevertheless  the  Costa  Eican  climate  is  one  of  the  most  salubrious  in  Central 
America,  both  for  natives  and  foreign  settlers.  Consumption  is  very  rare,  though 
the  uplands  have  at  times  been  ravaged  by  cholera,  smallpox,  and  other  epidemics. 
Fevers  also  prevail  in  the  low-lying  coast  districts,  while  on  the  plateau  strangers 
are  subject  to  rheumatism  from  the  excessive  moisture. 

In  general  the  flora  resembles  that  of  the  other  Central  American  regions, 
though  botanists  have  been  struck  by  the  contrasts  often  presented  between  the 
Xicaraguan  depressions  and  the  Costa  Rica  uplands.  Thus  of  the  100  ferns 
collected  by  Levy  in  Nicaragua,  only  three  or  four  are  found  in  the  36  Costa  Rican 
varieties  in  Polakowsky's  collection.  The  cactuses,  also,  which  in  many  parts  of 
the  Mexican  plateau  cover  vast  spaces,  are  scarcely  represented  at  all  on  the  San 
Jose  uplands.  In  the  forests  occur  numerous  Colombian  forms,  especiall)-  several 
false  cinchonas,  which  might  easily  be  replaced  by  the  valuable  medicinal  species. 
Tree-ferns  grow  to  an  altitude  of  nearly  7,000  feet,  and  the  banana  to  about 

Notwithstanding  the  reckless  destruction  of  timber  in  many  districts,  more 
than  half  of  the  Atlantic  slopes  are  still  covered  with  primeval  forests,  containing 
an  amazing  variety  of  forms.  In  a  space  of  100  square  yards,  more  types  are  here 
met  than  in  100  square  miles  in  north  Canada.  The  streams  flow  beneath  avenues 
of  overhanging  foliage  bound  together  from  bank  to  bank  by  wreaths  of  flowers 
and  festoons  of  trailing  plants.  A  characteristic  form  in  the  clumps  of  trees  dotted 
over  many  of  the  savannas  is  a  species  of  mimosa,  from  which  the  province  of 
Guanacnde  takes  its  name.  The  widespreading  branches  of  this  tree  are  a  favourite 
resort  of  the  monkey  tribe.  According  to  Pittier  the  Costa  Rican  flora  comprises 
altogether  at  least  2,200  species. 

The  fauna,  also,  is  exceptionally  rich  compared  with  that  of  other  tropical  regions. 
In  general  Brazilian  and  other  southern  types  prevail  over  those  of  the  northern 
continent.  But  Costa  Rica  also  possesses  several  indigenous  species,  such  as  a 
howling  monkey  distinct  from  that  of  Guiana,  a  tapir  {elasmognatJuis),  somewhat 
different  from  the  Colombian  species,  besides  several  kinds  of  bats  and  vampires 
dangerous  to  cattle,  whose  blood  they  suck.  One  migrating  species  appears  sud- 
denly on  the  plains  of  Pirris,  south  of  Mount  Herradura,  and  falls  on  the  domestic 
animals,  poultry,  cats,  dogs,  as  well  as  horses  and  oxen.  Although  often  regarded 
as  fables,  the  reports  of  vampires  sucking  the  blood  of  human  beings,  lulling  their 
victims  with  their  long  wings,  are  by  no  means  questioned  by  travellers  and 
naturalists  who  have  visited  Central  America.  "Whole  villages  have  had  to  be 
abandoned  to  escape  their  attacks,  and  the  engineer.  Brooks,  one  of  the  surveyors 
of  the  Panama  Canal,  died  from  the  bites  of  a  vampire. 

But  the  Costa  Rican  fauna  reveals  its  marvellous  wealth  especially  in  the 
feathered  tribe.  In  1885,  the  catalogue  of  the  "U'ashington  National  Museum 
already  enumerated  692  species,  distributed  in  394  genera,  and  two  years  later,  six 
new  species  were  discovered,  altogether  twice  the  number  possessed  by  the  whole 


of  Eui'ope.  The  parrot  and  gallinaceous  families  are  both  represented  by  an 
extraordinary  number  of  different  forms,  as  well  asb}-  the  multitude  of  individuals 
comprised  in  many  of  the  groups. 

In  the  reptile  order,  as  manj'  as  132  species  have  already  been  recorded,  and 
great  discoveries  still  remain  to  be  made  on  the  marshy  seaboard  and  in  the 
dense  primeval  woodlands.  The  surrounding  marine  waters  also  abound  in  animal 
life,  and  the  manatee,  which  has  disappeared  from  most  of  the  West  Indian  coast- 
lands,  still  frequents  the  Costa  Rican  streams.  Like  Tehuantepec  Bay,  the  Gulf  of 
Nicoya  has  its  purple-yielding  mm-ex,  and  like  the  Gulf  of  California,  its  pearl  and 
mother-of-pearl  oysters. 


In  Costa  Rica  the  aborigines  have  been  almost  entirely  supplanted  by  a  civi- 
lised population  of  Spanish  culture.  The  first  European  settlement,  which,  however, 
was  not  permanent,  was  founded  in  1-j24  by  Hernandez  de  Cordova  on  the  Gulf 
of  Nicoya.  Badajoz,  founded  in  1540,  on  the  opposite  coast  at  the  mouth  of  the 
Sicsola,  in  the  Talamanca  territory,  also  disappeared,  and  in  1544  took  place  the 
first  conflict  between  the  Indians  of  the  plateau  and  the  Spaniards  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood of  the  present  Cartago. 

In  1563  began  the  systematic  conquest  of  the  country  by  Vasquez  de  Coronado, 
who  secured  a  firm  footing  on  the  plateau,  where  nearly  all  the  population  of 
Spanish  speech  is  at  present  concentrated.  Vasquez  penetrated  to  within  a  short 
distance  of  the  Golfo  Dulce,  reducing  the  warlike  Coto  Indians,  and  afterwards 
exploring  the  Talamanca  territory  on  the  eastern  slope,  the  district  about  Almi- 
rante  Bay,  the  Guaymi  country  and  the  auriferous  region  of  the  Eio  de  la 

At  that  time  the  aborigines  must  have  numbered  at  least  60,000,  the  Talamancas 
alone  being  estimated  at  25,000,  and  the  Indians  of  Coto  at  from  12,000  to  15,000. 
In  1675,  over  100  years  after  the  conquest,  there  were  stiU  scarcely  more  than 
500  Spanish  settlers  in  the  country,  nearly  all  grouped  round  the  two  towns  of 
Cartago  and  Esparza  on  the  2:)lateau.  The  Indians  employed  on  their  plantations 
were  gradually  reduced  to  a  few  hundreds,  and  the  colony  itself  made  so  little 
progress  that  even  so  late  as  1718,  there  was  not  a  single  place  of  business  on  the 
plateau,  and  all  the  traffic  was  in  the  hands  of  packmen. 

During  the  seventeenth  centurj'  the  seaboard  was  frequently  attacked  by  the 
corsairs,  but  the  country  was  too  poor  to  attract  them  to  the  plateau.  Despite  its 
strategic  importance  Costa  Eica,  towards  the  end  of  the  colonial  regime,  when  it 
formed  a  province  of  the  Guatemalan  viceroyalty,  had  only  a  population  of  47,000, 
mainly  Mestizoes.  The  people  are  usually  siDoken  of  as  full-blood  Spaniards, 
mostly  from  Galicia  ;  but  they  are  really  Ladinos,  assimilated  to  the  white  race 
in  speech,  usages,  and  national  sentiment.  The  negro  element  is  very  slight, 
there  having  been  onlj'  200  blacks  in  the  province  at  the  time  of  the  official 
abolition  of  slavery  in  1824. 

The  hravos,  or  "  wild  "  Indians,  variouslj-  estimated  at  from  3,500  to  6,000, 


were  quite  recently  still  living  entirely  aloof  from  the  civilised  populations.  In 
the  forests  of  the  northern  slopes  draining  to  Lake  Nicaragua  and  the  San  Juan, 
and  especially  in  the  Eio  Frio  basin,  dwell  the  Guatusos,  who  at  present  visit  the 
market  of  San  Jos^,  and  bring  offerings  to  the  Catholic  priests,  "  brothers  of  the 
sun."  They  were  formerly  said  to  have  fair  hair  and  blue  eyes,  which  Gabb 
attributed  to  contact  with  the  English   buccaneers.     Others  pretended  that  the 

Tig.  134. — Gtiatuso  Indian. 

1  m  w     ,  A^ 

fugitives  from   the  town  of  Esparza,  sacked  by  the  corsairs,  hud  merged  in  a 
single  nation  with  the  Indians. 

But  all  the  Guatusos  seen  at  San  Carlos  of  Nicaragua,  or  at  the  markets  of  the 
Costa  Rican  plateau,  have  black  hair,  a  dark  complexion,  and  prominent  cheek- 
bones, like  the  Nicaraguan  Chontals,  to  whom  the}'  are  probably  related.  They 
are  excellent  husbandmen,  cultivating  their  banana,  cacao  and  other  plantations  with 
great  care.  Nor  are  the  Guatusos  ferocious  savages,  as  formerlj'  asserted ;  on  the 
contrary,  most  of  them  have  been  exterminated  by  the  Nicaraguan  and  Costa 
Ricau  Latlinos  engaged  in  collectiug  rubber  in  the  northern  forests.     According 



to  Tliiel  hundreds  are  still  kept  in  a  state  of  servitude  in  Nicaragua,  where  the 
price  of  a  Guatuso  was  receuth'  fifty  dollars. 

The  natives  of  the  southern  districts  are  generally  grouped  under  the  collective 
name  of  Talamancas,  although  each  tribe  has  its  special  designation.     Such  are 

Fi?.  ISS ToiryG  Talajuncas  Tn-bians. 

r.—r -.-?,'>    ^^- 
1  V.      v:,   :/t1  I 

','//'  y/'r—r"/^  •■/;, 

■.•}lf,   »'■•' 

./'/  ';;'7:'^;,';!.'ti 

the  Chirripos,  the  Cabecars,  Viceitas,  Bribri  and  Tiribies,  who  still  decorate  them- 
selves with  plumes,  strings  of  teeth  or  pearl  necklaces,  and  dwell  in  pakiiqiiis  with 
thatched  roof  reaching  to  the  ground. 

On  the  Pacific  coast  live  other  tribes,  the  Borucas  or  Bnmcas,  the  Terrebas  and 
others,  who  have  given  their  names  to  the  neighbouring  villages.  The  Chirripos 
and  Cabecars  near  the  Cartago  district  have  already  been  baptised.     The  other 

VOL.    XVII.  X 


Talaraancas  of  the  seaboard  between  Puerto  Liraon  and  Almirante  Bay  appear  to 
have  also  been  formerly  converted,  for  many  of  their  ceremonies  are  of  Spanish 
origin.  But  they  still  worship  the  sun  and  stars,  the  rocks  and  winds,  the  running 
waters  and  the  sea. 

The  Blancos,  a  people  of  Cabecar  or  Bribri  origin,  expose  the  bodies  of  their 
dead  on  palm-stands  one  or  two  yards  above  the  ground,  and  bury  thera  after 
three  years,  when  they  are  perfectly  dry.  Some  food  and  precious  objects  are 
at  the  same  time  placed  in  the  grave. 

In  these  graves  have  been  found  some  remarkable  little  gold  figures,  which 
attest  the  ancient  civilisation  of  the  natives,  and  their  lamentable  degradation 
under  their  white  rulers.  Many  of  these  artistic  objects  have  unfortimately  been 
melted  down  and  coined  at  the  Costa  Rican  mint.  The  jadeites  and  other  green 
stones  known  by  the  Mexican  name  of  chalchiltnifes  come  chiefly  from  Guanacaste 
and  the  Nicoya  peninsula.  Objects  of  pre-Columbian  culture,  formerly  supposed 
to  be  rare  in  the  northern  provinces,  are  now  found  in  thousands,  especially  about 
the  environs  of  Cartage,  where  stood  the  ancient  city  of  Purapura. 


Since  the  middle  of  the  present  century  the  population  of  the  formerly  almost 
uninhabited  Guanacaste  region  has  increased  fourfold.  Its  vast  savannas,  where 
millions  of  cattle  might  be  raised  ;  its  forests,  abounding  in  valuable  timber  and 
cabinet  woods ;  its  gulf  and  harbours  ;  lastly,  its  convenient  position  between  the 
Nicaraguan  peninsula  and  the  Costa  Rican  plateau — give  promise  of  a  great  future 
for  this  hitherto  neglected  province.  Its  capital,  Liberia,  formerly  Guanacaste, 
lies  at  the  south  foot  of  the  Orosi  volcanoes  towards  the  middle  of  the  fertile 
depression  at  the  neck  of  the  Nicoya  peninsula. 

In  the  interior  of  the  peninsula  are  situated  the  populous  towns  of  Santa  Cruz 
and  Nicoija,  the  latter  the  larger  of  the  two  and  formerly  residence  of  the 
friendly  chief  who  welcomed  the  Spanish  conquerors,  and  was  baptised  with  all 
his  people.  On  the  shores  of  the  gulf  are  obtained  both  pearl  and  edible  oysters, 
said  to  be  the  best  on  the  whole  west  coast  of  America. 

Puntarenas  [Punta  Arenas,  or  "Sandy  Point")  stands  on  a  tongue  of  sand  at 
the  mouth  of  the  little  River  Barranca,  which  has  deposited  vast  quantities  of 
eruptive  matter  in  the  Gulf  of  Nicoya.  The  inlet  is  too  shallow  for  large  vessels, 
which  have  to  ride  at  anchor  in  the  roadstead.  Yet  Puntarenas  has  since  1814 
been  the  outlet  for  all  the  foreign  trade  of  Costa  Rica  on  the  Pacific  side. 

Before  that  year  the  Pacific  seaport  of  the  province  stood  some  six  miles 
farther  soiith,  near  the  thermal  springs  of  La  Caldera,  between  the  Barranca  and 
Jesus-Maria  estuaries.  Before  the  opening  of  the  railway,  which  hasits  terminus 
at  Puntarenas,  it  was  proposed  to  establish  the  port  south  of  the  Rio  Grande,  in  the 
picturesque  bay  of  Tarcoles,  at  the  foot  of  Mount  Herradura.  But  the  project  was 
never  realised  owing  t^  the  dangers  of  the  bar  and  unhealthy  climate  of  Tarcoles. 
In  the  neighbourhood  are  some  extremely  thick  beds  of  anthracite. 

From   Puntarenas   the  railway  ascends  the  scarp  of  the  plateau   to  Esparza 


<S;i1  -)V,  ■  i  .'^  ?:,''i.'^^' ,' J  ,  J'  '1' '  K  .lie,'';  ,,\t  ' 









like  the  station  of  Chirripo,  it  failed  to  prosper  owing  to  its  isolation.  The 
so-called  "city"  of  Santiago  de  Talamanca,  founded  on  the  banks  of  tte  Sicsola, 
was  burnt  in  1610  by  the  revolted  Indians. 

The  constant  reports  of  rich  gold-fields  in  the  vaUey  of  the  Estrella   (Chan- 
guinola)  rest  on  a  mistake  made  by  Alcedo  in  his  famous  JDiccionario  Geograjico- 
Hinforico  de   !as    Iiidias    Occidenfales.      Alcedo   had  given  to  these  mines  of   the 
Estrella  the  name  of  Tisingal  (Tinsigal,  Tisiugal),  which  happens  to  be  an  abbre- 
viated form  of  Tegucigalpa,  as  shown 
by  the  corsair   Ravenau   de   Lussan's 
excursion  to  the  Eio  Segovia  in  Nica- 

This  "gold  coast,"  where  no  tra- 
dition survives  of  a  pretended  town  of 
Estrella,  attracted  scarcely  any  settlers. 
It  was,  in  fact,  rather  avoided,  owing 
to  its  reefs  and  inhospitable  shores. 

Fig.    136. — PUEETO  LiMON. 
Scale  1 :  50,000. 



Sandg  exposed 
at  ebb. 


16  to  32 

32  Feet  and 

1,100  Yards. 

Economic  Condition  of  Costa  Eic.\. 

Although   not  so   rapid    as  that  of 

other  Spanish-American  communities, 

the  material  progress  of  Costa  Rica  has 

at  least  been  steady  and  regular.     The 

population   advanced   from   80,000  in 

1844  to  120,500  in  1864,  and  to  over 

182,000  in  1883,  and  was  estimated  at 

220,000  in  1890.     The  number  of  immigrants  is  still  very  small,  and  of  the  4,672 

returned  in  1883,  nearly  2,000  were  from  the   conterminous  states  of  Nicaragua 

and  Colombia. 

In  the  trade  of  the  world  Costa  Rica  derives  its  importance  almost  exelusivelj' 
from  its  coffee,  which,  in  prosperous  years,  has  been  exported  to  the  extent  of 
15,000  tons,  chiefly  to  Great  Britain. 

Costa  Rica  also  exports  sugar,  rubber,  cacao,  hides,  and  timber  ;  but  in  recent 
years  all  these  wares  are  exceeded  in  value  by  the  bananas  forwarded  to  the 
United  States,  which  in  1889  amounted  to  40,000  tons,  worth  over  £80,000. 
The  so-called  quiqukque,  that  is,  the  taro  of  Polynesia  (edible  colocasia),  is  also 
cultivated,  in  some  districts  even  by  Indians. 

The  planters  on  the  uplands,  directing  their  attention  almost  exclusively  to 
coffee-growing,  do  not  produce  sufficient  supplies  for  the  local  demand,  and  are 
consequently  obliged  to  import  farinaceous  products  from  Chile.  Even  the  live- 
stock is  insufficient  for  the  wants  of  the  people,  despite  the  vast  extent  of  their 
grazing-grounds.  Of  sheep  and  goats  there  were  scarcely  more  than  2,000,  and  of 
horsef  and  horned  cattle,  353,000  in  1888,  when  all  the  live-stock  was  valued  at 
not  more  than  £80,000. 



But  Costa  Rica  enjoys  the  advantage  over  Nicaragua,  Guatemala,  and  Mexico 
that  about  one-half  of  the  agricultural  population  are  everywhere  landowners, 
except  in  the  province  of  Guanacaste.  The  territory  which,  even  under  the  Spanish 
rule,  was  almost  exclusively  cultivated  by  free  labour,  is,  for  the  most  part,  divided 
into  small  holdings,  which  give  to  the  peasantry  a  direct  interest  in  its  improvement. 
In  1886  there  were  enumerated  altogether  57,639  such  holdings  {fincas),  with  a 
total  value  of  £7,760,000,  but  mortgaged  to  the  extent  of  £1,600,000.  Not  more 
than  one-twentieth  part  of  the  whole  land  has  yet  been  brought  under  cultivation. 

Since  the  middle  of  the  century  trade  increased  fourfold,  from  about  £400,000 
to  from  £1,400,000  to  £1,600,000,  or  in  the  proportion  of  from  £6  to  £8  per 

Fig.  137. — Mlll  foe  HusKrua  Coffee. 

head  of  the  population.  Great  Britain,  the  United  States,  France,  and  Germany, 
in  the  order  hei'e  given,  are  the  chief  customers  of  Costa  Rica.  The  great  high- 
way of  the  traffic  is  the  railway  h\  which  the  capital  has  been  completely  connected 
with  the  seaport  of  Limonon  the  Atlantic  side  since  the  year  1890.  The  railway 
company,  besides  government  advances,  has  received  a  grant  of  many  hundred 
thousand  acres  of  land  on  the  condition  of  selling  or  renting  it  within  a  period  of 
twenty  years.  A  portion  of  this  vast  domain  has  already  been  ceded  to  settlers, 
either  for  tillage  or  stock-breeding. 

Other  railways  are  also  projected,  to  connect  Costa  Rica  with  Nicaragua  and 
its  future  canal,  and  plans  and  estimates  have  been  prepared  for  regulating  the 
discharge  of  the  Rivers  Frio,  Sau  Carlos,  Sarapiqui,  and   Sucio,  with  a   view  to 



making  tliem  accessible  to  steamers.  An  embankment,  forming  part  of  the 
Nicaragua  Canal  scheme,  -would  have  the  effect  of  raising  the  level  of  the  Rio  San 
Carlos  about  50  feet,  thus  rendering  it  na\'igable  by  vessels  of  heavy  draught  to 
the  foot  of  the  mountain. 

On  the  other  hand,  the  interoceanic  route  between  the  ports  of  Chiriqui  and 
the  Golfo  Dulce,  for  which  a  concession  was  granted  so  far  back  as  1849,  has  not 
even  been  begun,  although  the  company  received  a  guarantee  of  244  square 
leagues  "with  streams,  rivers,  mountains,  and  mines." 

Fig.  138.— HioHWATS  OF  CoMinmiCATiON  IN  Costa  Rica. 
Scale  1  :  4,500,000. 

Navigable  Rivers. 

Apart  from  a  few  minor  details,  the  political  institutions  of  the  republic  are 
modelled  on  those  of  the  other  Hispano- American  states.  The  legislative  power  is 
exercised  by  a  congress,  whose  members  are  elected  for  four  years,  one-half 
retiring  every  two  years.  A  president,  also  nominated  for  four  years,  and  not  re- 
eligible,  is  charged  with  the  executive  functions.  He  chooses  his  own  secretaries 
of  state,  and  appoints  the  provincial  governors,  the  military  commanders,  and  the 
political  chiefs  of  the  cantons.  The  municipalities  are  elected  by  popular  suffrage, 
which  is  not  universal,  but  restricted  to  all  who  are  able  to  live  "  respectably." 

The  laws  are  administered  by  justices  of  the  peace,  cantonal  alcaldes,  provincial 
tribunes  and  a  court  of  appeal.  Criminal  cases  are  tried  before  juries,  and  capital 
punishment  is  abolished  as  well  as  all  degrading  penalties.      Freedom  of  worship. 



decreed  in  1870,  already  existed  dc  facto,  and  tithes  liad  already  beea  abolished 
soon  after  the  declaration  of  independence.  Convents  and  religious  orders  are 
interdicted  throughout  the  republic. 

Public  instruction  had  formerly  been  much  neglected,  and  even  in  1883  not 
more  than  12  per  cent,  of  the  population  could  read  and  WTite.  But  primary 
instruction  for  both  sexes  is  now  obligatory  and  gratuitous,  aud  in  1886  as  many 
as  20,000  scholars  were  already  attending  the  260  public  schools.  Under  the 
Spanish  rule,  and  dovm  to  1830,  Costa  Eica  had  not  a  single  printing-press  ;  there 
are  now  over  ten,  and  the  number  of  letters  forwarded  through  the  post  increased 
from  600  in  1811  to  nearly  3,000,000  in  1890. 

Costa  Rica   was   free  of  liabilities  till  1871-2,  when  loans  of   £3,100,000 

Fig.  139. — AjDHEfUTEiTivE  Dmsioss  OF  CosiA  Rica. 
Scale  1  :  5,(»i.O>"0. 







San  Jose. 




Oomarca  of  Limon. 

Cartflgo .              Comarca  of  Pnntarenas. 
134  Miles. 

were  raised  on  the  security  of  the  customs  and  railway  debentui-es.  In  1888  the 
public  debt  was  converted  into  a  total  amount  of  £2,000,000  at  5  per  cent.,  and 
taken  over  by  the  Costa  Rica  Railway  Company.  The  yearly  budget  is  generally 
balanced  with  an  income  and  expenditure  of  from  £600,000  to  £800,000.  Most 
of  the  revenue  is  derived  from  the  customs  and  spirits  and  tobacco  monopolies. 
The  army  comprises  a  standing  corps  of  1,000  men. 

Costa  Rica  is  divided  into  five  administrative  provinces  and  two  comarcas,  with 
areas  and  populations,  tabulated  in  the  Appendix. 



[LTHOUGH  politicall}'  forming  an  integral  part  of  Colombia,  tte 
pro^ance  of  Panama  belongs  geographically  to  Central  America, 
of  whicb  it  is  even  a  typical  section  in  its  serpentine  isthmian 
contours.  The  political  frontier  towards  Costa  Rica  has  not  yet 
been  definitely  settled ;  but  in  estimating  the  extent  of  the  pro- 
vince, the  nearly  straight  line  may  be  provisionally  accepted  which  is  traced  on 
the  Colombian  maps  from  the  extremity  of  Burica  Point  in  the  Pacific  to  the 
western  headland  of  the  Boca  del  Drago  ("  Dragon's  Mouth  "),  at  the  entrance  of 
Almirante  Bay,  in  the  Caribbean  Sea.  The  greater  part  of  "  ducal  "  Yeragua 
granted  to  Luiz  Colon  is  thus  included  in  Colombia,  while  "  roj-al  "  Veragua, 
stretching  thence  northwards,  is  assigned  to  Costa  Rica. 

The  administrative  limit  s  of  the  province  towards  South  America  pass  far  to 
the  north  of  the  natural  boundary,  which  is  here  so  clearly  indicated,  between  the 
isthmian  region  and  the  southern  continent.  Within  these  somewhat  conventional 
frontiers  the  province  of  Panama  comprises  an  area  of  about  32,000  square  miles, 
with  a  population  estimated  at  300,000. 

Physical  Fe.\tures. 

The  main  Costa  Rican  range  is  continued  through  Panama  by  mountains  of 
great  elevation.  Picacho,  near  the  frontier,  over  7,000  feet,  is  greatly  exceeded 
by  its  eastern  neighbour,  the  extinct  Chiriqui  volcano,  a  perfect  cone,  nearly 
11,400  feet  high.  At  its  eastern  base  the  range  is  crossed  by  a  pass  which  falls 
to  3,600  feet,  and  still  farther  east  by  another  about  4,000  feet,  mentioned  by  the 
traveller  Morel.  The  crest  rising  between  these  two  depressions  to  a  height  of 
nearly  7,000  feet  .takes  the  name  of  Cerro  de  Horqueta,  that  Is,  "Mountain  of  the 
Pass."  Wheelwright  and  other  explorers  speak  of  even  still  less  elevated  saddle- 
backs, falling  even  to  less  than  200  feet ;  but  their  statements  are  not  supported 
by  accurate  surveys. 

Farther  on  the  cordillera  maintains  a  normal  altitude  of  over  8,000  feet,  and 
here  runs  much  nearer  to  the  northern  or  Atlantic  than  to  the  Pacific  coast, 
where  space  is  left  for  the  vast  plain  of  David.  To  this  corresponds  on  the 
opposite  side  the  extensive  inlet  of  the  Chiriqui  "  lagoon,"  which  gives  its  name 



to  this  section  of  the  cordillcra.  Farther  on  it  takes  the  name  of  the  Vcragiia 
range,  which  begins  on  the  west  side  with  the  superb  Mount  Santiago  (6,300 
feet),  followed  by  several  others  over  4,000  feet  high. 

In  this  region,  the  whole  of  the  isthmus,  from  ocean  to  ocean,  is  filled  with 
mountains  or  hills,  with  spurs  projecting  northwards  to  the  Atlantic  coast,  and 
penetrating  southwards  through  the  massive  peninsula  of  Las  Palmas,  west  of 
Montijo  Bay,  far  into  the  Pacific.  But  the  quadrangular  peninsula  of  Azuero, 
which  limits  the  Gulf  of  Panama  on  the  south-west,  is  physically  distinct  from 
the  Veragua  range,  from  which  it  is  separated  by  depressions  and  grassy  rising 
grounds  about  509  feet  high,  culminating  south-westwards  in  a  headland  exceeding 
3,000  feet.  The  Azuero  peninsula,  in  fact,  forms  part  of  an  almost  completely 
submerged  chain,  which  is  disposed  parallel  with  the  winding  isthmian  Cordilleras, 
and  which  embraces  the  Nicoya  peninsula,  with  those  of  the  Golfo  Dulce  and 
Burica,  besides  Coiba  Island  and  the  Pearl  Archipelago  in  Panama  Bay. 

North-west  of  the  Veragua  range  the  orographic  system  becomes  very 
irregular  in  direction  and  altitude,  being  broken  into  several  fragments,  whose 
original  trend  it  is  now  difficult  to  determine.  Capira,  the  culminating  mass 
(5,000  feet),  lies  beyond  the  line  of  the  main  axis,  its  escarpments  plunging 
southwards  into  Panama  Bay,  and  even  projecting  seawards  in  the  little  Ccrro 
Chame.  The  main  axis  itself  appears  to  be  continued  in  the  Ahoga-Yeguas 
hills,  which  are  crossed  by  a  pass  only  380  feet  high,  and  which  nowhere  exceed 
700  feet.  Farther  on  is  opened  the  still  lower  Culebra  Pass  (290  feet),  which  is 
distant  about  34  miles  in  a  straight  line  from  both  oceans. 

The  geological  constitution  of  the  isthmian  heights  shows  that  their  various 
sections  belong  to  no  single  homogeneous  system.  The  Veragua  range  consists 
mainly  of  granites  and  sj-enites,  gneiss  and  schists,  whereas  the  Panama  hills  are 
chiefly  weathered  dolerites  and  trachites,  "  which  may  be  cut  with  a  spade  like 
cheese."  But  these  igneous  heights  nowhere  present  the  aspect  of  erupted  cones. 
Hence  the  eruptions  must  have  taken  place  at  a  time  when  the  waters  of  the  two 
oceans  communicated  through  channels.  The  limestone  banks  occurring  in  cer- 
tain parts  of  the  isthmus  are  also  filled  wilh  fossils,  dating,  probablj',  from  eurly 
tertiary  times,  and  mostly  resembling  the  forms  still  living  in  the  neighbouring 
waters.  The  channel,  in  fact,  is  scarcely  completely  closed,  though  the  attempts 
of  engineers  to  reopen  it  have  hitherto  failed.  The  depression,  however,  is  traversed 
by  an  interoceanic  road  and  railway. 

Beyond  the  Culobrasill  the  mountains  again  gradually  rise  eastwards,  the  Maria 
Enriquez  (1,340  feet)  being  followed  by  those  of  Pacora,  which  are  nearly  1,700 
feet  high.  Then  in  the  neighbourhood  of  San  Bias  Bay  is  developed  a  coast- 
range  disposed  west  and  east  along  the  Atlantic,  and  in  one  of  its  crests  just  east 
of  Puerto  Belo  attaining  an  elevation  of  over  3,000  feet.  The  system  is  continued  by 
a  steep  ridge  from  500  to  2,700  feet,  which  here  forms  the  waterpartiug  between 
the  two  oceans  at  the  very  narrowest  part  of  the  isthmus.  The  distance  between 
San  Bias  Bay  and  the  head  of  the  Pacific  tidal  wave  in  the  Rio  Bayano  scarcely 
exceeds  17  miles.     But  the  crest   where  the  Bavauo  has  its  source  is  over  1,000 



feet  hiwh,  so  that  for  au  interoceanic  canal  it  \vould  have  to  be  pierced  by  a 
tunnel  at  least  seven  miles  long  and  high  enough  to  admit  the  taUest  vessels. 

The  San  Bias  (Chepo)  cordillera,  consisting  of  gneiss  and  metamorphic  schists, 
is  continued  under  various  names  as  the  Atlantic  coast-range  as  far  as  the  entrance 
to  Uraba  Bay,  where  the  isthmus  takes  the  name  of  Darien.  The  hilly  mass  of 
Gandi  (3,000  feet)  and  Turganti  farther  on  mark  the  point  vs^here  the  system  bends 
round  to  the  south  along  the  west  side  of  the  Eio  Atrato.  At  the  Tihule  Pass  it 
falls  as  low  as  420  feet,  and  this  site  has  also  been  proposed  for  an  interoceanic 
canal,  which  would  replace  an  ancient  marine  strait  along  the  valleys  of  the  Eio 
Atrato  in  the  east  and  Rio  Tuj^ra  in  the  west. 

Farther  on  the  cordillera  is  connected  by  lateral  ridges  with  the  Baudo  range, 
which  runs  close  to  the  Pacific  coast  in  the  direction  from  north  to  south  for  a 

Fig.   no. — COUESE    OF   THE    RiVEE   CbAGBES. 

From  a  Spanisli  Map  of  the  fii-it  half  of  the  Eighteenth  Centnry. 

distance  of  about  124  miles.  The  sierra  culminates  in  the  Baudo  peak  (6,000  feet), 
but  it  is  interrupted  by  broad  depressions,  one  of  which,  the  Cupica  Pass,  is  only 
1,000  feet  high.  The  last  rising  grounds  of  the  plateau  die  out  north  of  the  San 
Juan  estuary. 

Rivers,  B.\ys,  Islands. 

Apart  from  the  Atrato,  only  a  few  lateral  affluents  of  which  are  comprised  in 
the  province  of  Panama,  the  isthmus  has  no  large  rivers,  or,  at  least,  none  that 
send  down  a  large  volume  except  after  heavj^  rains.  Many  have  a  considerable 
course  owing  to  the  disposition  of  their  valleys,  which  rim  parallel  with,  and  not 
transversely  to,  the  seaboard.  But  their  basins  are  too  narrow  to  collect  any  great 
quantity  of  sui-face  waters. 

Even  the  Chagres,  a  term  which,  according  to  Pinart,  means  "  Great  River  " 
in  the  Muoi  language,  is  in  ordinary  times  an  insignificant  tributary  of  the  Carib- 
bean Sea.     It  rises  about  the  centre  of  the  isthmus  of  Panama,  and  flows  first  in 





the  direction  of  the  south-west  parallel  with  the  shores  of